According to the family, the had no option but to agree to a settlement with longtime NASCAR star Tony Stewart after the tragic death of their 20-year-old son, Kevin Ward Jr. in 2014.
The Ward family and Tony Stewart walked out of a Utica, New York courtroom on Thursday, April 12th after being forced to appear by U.S. District Court Judge David Hurd. The family had filed a request with the court asking to not appear in person due to immense financial costs of travel and attorney fees – after all, they had already agreed to a settlement with Stewart.
The settlement, they say, was an unavoidable result after they were left with “no option” during their lawsuit. The Ward family filed a wrongful death civil lawsuit against Stewart claiming that he drove his sprint car recklessly toward their son and struck him – causing his death.
Kevin Ward Jr. was killed after he exited his car following a collision on the sprint car track. Tony Stewart’s car struck him with the rear left tire and he died from his injuries.
Stewart was not criminally charged in Ward’s death after a grand jury declined to indict him. In the video footage of the incident, you can see Ward’s car come to a stop on the track, Ward exit the vehicle and begin walking toward oncoming cars. At the time of his death, it was determined that Ward had enough marijuana in his system to cause impairment.
“Our whole goal was to hold Tony Stewart accountable,” Pamela Ward said in court. “I wanted this case to go to trial. … That was our ultimate goal to get justice for my son.”
The 15-minute hearing was intended to solidify the agreement between both parties without revealing confidential details of the settlement – such as how much money Stewart was paying to end the lawsuit.
During her testimony at the hearing, Pamela Ward told the judge that a settlement with Stewart was the only option they had at this point because the family had exhausted their financial resources seeking justice for their son. As ESPN reports, she claimed their family had “no choice” because they didn’t have the financial means to go to trial.
At the end of the short hearing, Judge David Hurd refused to dismiss the case against Stewart until he had a chance to personally review the terms and ensure all parts are completed. Once the full settlement has been enacted, he said he would dismiss it.
What do you think about the lawsuit brought against Tony Stewart? Do you think the Ward family should have settled? Tell us in the comments.