Remember That Lawsuit Against Tony Stewart? Yeah, It’s Still Going On…
…and the latest news isn’t good for the NASCAR driver and team owner.
Former NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart isn’t smiling about the latest court ruling in the civil lawsuit that claims he is responsible for the death of Kevin Ward, the young sprint car driver who jumped out of his spun-out car and charged the rolling sprint car of Stewart. The right rear tire and possibly the wing of Stewart’s 360 sprinter caught Ward and he was killed.
This was in August of 2014 at Canandaigua Motorsports Park in New York, and Stewart was moonlighting, as he often did, at a local track with a minor league group of racers, the Empire Super Sprint Series, before he raced in the Cup event at nearby Watkins Glen.
The local authorities found that Stewart was not criminally responsible, but the Ward family filed suit against Stewart, despite that ruling, and despite the fact that the coroner found traces of marijuana in Ward’s system. Many in the racing community put the blame on Ward, suggesting it’s a bad idea to approach a sprint car when it is under power, given the car’s limited right-side visibility, the track’s unimpressive lighting, and the fact that Ward was wearing black.
Here’s the bad news: Stewart had insurance – and quite an extensive policy – but the court ruled last week that this particular event was not covered. Stewart had a liability policy that apparently covered up to 65 World of Outlaws races, 30 USAC races and 10 USAC Silver Crown races, odd since Stewart hasn’t raced actively with USAC in years. Since the race where Ward was killed was sanctioned by the Empire Super Sprints, Axis Insurance Company claimed they didn’t have to pay, and the judge agreed.
Meaning: Presumably, unless there are other policies we are not yet aware of, all the court costs and any settlement the Ward family wins would come out of Stewart’s pocket.
It has to be a distraction for Stewart, as he is winding down his last year in NASCAR, and looking forward to returning to his roots, dirt track racing. But it appears this monkey will stay on his back for months, if not years, to come.