Judge rules against Tony Stewart in case with his insurance company

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A federal district judge ruled Friday that Axis Insurance is not required to cover any damages Tony Stewart might have to pay in a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the estate of Kevin Ward Jr.

Judge David N. Hurd of the Northern District of New York granted Axis Insurance’s request for summary judgment.

Ward, 20, was struck by Stewart’s car and died Aug. 9, 2014, during a sprint car race at Canandaigua (N.Y.) Motorsports Park. Ward exited his car after hitting the wall while racing Stewart and walked down the track toward Stewart’s car during the caution when he was struck. The Ward family filed the lawsuit Aug. 7, 2015, seeking unspecified damages against Stewart.

Axis Insurance Company stated in court documents that “this insurance does not apply to claims or actions brought by one racing vehicle driver against another racing vehicle driver.’’

Axis also stated that its policy was limited to events specifically listed by Tony Stewart Racing. Those events included 65 World of Outlaw races, 30 USAC Sprint Car races and 10 USAC Silver Crown races.

Stewart was racing in an Empire Super Sprints race when Ward was killed. That series was not specifically listed to be covered in the insurance policy.

Stewart’s claim was that Axis’ contract created confusion, “leaving Stewart and (Tony Stewart Racing) to guess which coverages the endorsement does and does not apply to.’’

The U.S. District Court judge stated in his ruling that: “Simply put, Axis’s interpretation of the Schedule of Events endorsement as a limitation on the events that would be covered … is a commonsense reading of the document when it is considered in the context of the whole Policy. The chain of inferences and series of second-guesses necessary to reach an alternative conclusion … is a painfully strained reading of the CGL Policy’s provisions.’’

The ruling also means that Stewart will be responsible for all of his attorney fees in the Ward lawsuit.