Tony Stewart, parents of Kevin Ward Jr. reach settlement, but judge waiting to dismiss lawsuit

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Tony Stewart and the parents of Kevin Ward Jr. appeared Thursday in U.S. District Court to inform a judge in Utica, New York, that they had reached a settlement in the wrongful death lawsuit the family brought against Stewart.

Ward was struck and killed by Stewart’s car during a sprint car race on Aug. 9, 2014 at Canandaigua Motorsports Park. The incident occurred during a caution flag for Ward’s car, which spun after apparent contact with Stewart’s car.

Judge David Hurd did not dismiss the lawsuit Thursday. He ordered a copy of the settlement filed under seal and said he would dismiss the case once actions involving the estate of the victim had been completed.  Terms of the agreement weren’t divulged.

According to Syracuse.com, lawyers said both parties would be permitted to discuss the case.

On Tuesday, the parties filed a joint motion to have the hearing canceled or postponed to avoid travel inconvenience and “significant costs” on fees and also to avoid having the details divulged. The motion was denied by Hurd, who in a tersely worded ruling that the purpose of the hearing was “not to approve the settlement or to reveal any confidential information.”

Hurd denied a request Wednesday by Stewart to participate in the hearing via speakerphone because of a previously scheduled event with sponsors at his home Wednesday night in Columbus, Indiana.

The lawsuit, filed on Aug. 7, 2015, had been scheduled to go to jury trial on May 7. It has been adjourned without a date and will rescheduled if the stipulation of discontinuance is not filed by August 1.

Ward, 20, died from the injuries he suffered in the incident during the Empire Super Sprints race. 

Stewart, in a deposition Dec. 8, 2016, stated he “attempted to change direction” and that “it was a split second from the time that I saw a person until I got to the person.’’

A grand jury cleared Stewart of any criminal wrongdoing on Sept. 24, 2014. The district attorney revealed publicly after the grand jury’s decision that Ward was under the influence of marijuana at the time of his death.