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The Civil Suit: The Estate of Kevin Ward, Jr. v. Anthony Wayne Stewart

Civil Justice

On August 7, 2015 at 2:43 PM the family of Kevin Ward, Jr. filed Civil Index Number CA2015-000280 with the Supreme Court of Lewis County in rural Lowville, New York against Anthony Wayne Stewart.  Many have questioned the timing of the filing, since the incident in question was just two days shy of its one year anniversary. Some speculated that the Ward Family may have wanted to take advantage of the additional public attention due to the fact that Stewart, the plaintiff, was in nearby Watkins Glen for the annual NASCAR Sprint Cup road race for the weekend.

While I certainly cannot read the collective mind of the Ward Family, it may have more to do with the summonsing process. In New York, a filer has three years from the date of an incident to file a civil suit.  If the summons is delivered within the State of New York, the plaintiff has 20 days to reply to the summons, otherwise, the plaintiff has 30 days to reply.

With that piece of knowledge, we can assume that Tony was served the summons on either Saturday, August 8th, or Sunday, the 9th.  Therefore, a response will need to be prepared and filed by Tony’s legal team on or about the 28th.  A settlement prior to this date is an option as well.

The Interview

Based on this August 14th interview with CBS News, the parents of Kevin Ward, Jr. are adamant, they want justice for their son.  When presented with the two major facts in this case, the Ward’s still blame Stewart.  Mrs. Ward said,

“I wish he has never gotten out of the car, I really do, but I also acknowledge the fact that if Tony would have stayed low on the track and not gunned his engine and headed for my son, my son would still be here.”

Mrs. Ward certainly chose her words carefully.  There was no acceptance of responsibility, only recognition that he got out of the car.  Not that he shouldn’t have, not that it was wrong, against the track rules or anything of that nature.  Only that she wishes he never got out.  The rest of her quote highlights what we could expect as the focal points of their argument in the civil case; their belief that Tony purposefully went high, gunned his engine and headed for their son.  

When asked about the marijuana in her son’s system, Mrs. Ward refutes the findings of the official investigation, “I do not believe my son was impaired.”  Do they have some evidence that has not been made public that can negate the findings of the toxicology reports?  Are they hinting at misconduct on the part of Ontario County?  I can think of no other way they can make these findings go away.  

These two major points; their son exiting his vehicle under caution and pointing at Tony’s car and the other, the fact that the official investigation found marijuana in their son’s system, enough to be determined to be “judgement impaired,” were most likely the key findings, along with the evaluation of the video of the incident, that lead to no criminal charges being levied against Tony Stewart.

Mr. Ward concluded with interview saying, “There is no doubt he (Stewart) knew what he was doing and it was Tony’s car that revved that motor.”

Series and Track Rules for 2014

The complaint filed in this civil suit, which, we might add, demands for a jury trial, lists 55 factual allegations I’ll addressed in a few paragraphs.   We have learned that the sprint cars were all equipped with one-way radios allowing race officials to communicate with drivers.  One question we were able to answer is whether or not the 2014 Eastern Sprint Series Rulebook explicitly stated that drivers would be penalized for exiting a vehicle under caution. It does not.  But it does clearly address the use of narcotics.

C.4 A violation of any rule relating to abusive conduct, intoxicants or narcotics and unauthorized contact with track officials may be subject to immediate suspension without a warning.   

They also address “rough riding”:

C.5 A driver determined to be rough riding may be black flagged and/or immediately suspended and is subject to a loss of up to 100 points per infraction. He/she is also subject to being placed in the scratch position for a designated number of A-Main races not to exceed 2 races per infraction.

We also found  the Canandaigua Motorsports Park’s 2015 track rules. Under Procedural Rules:

  1. No drinking of alcohol or ingestion of any intoxicants by any participants allowed at any time before or during the racing program, or any evidence there of by any driver, owner or crew member.
  1. Any driver involved in an accident, spin, or has a mechanical failure on the track MUST stay in their car until the Safety Crew arrives. If there is imminent danger of fire or leaking fluids you may exit the car and stand as close to the car as possible. If you exit your car you will be  penalized.

Yet, we have no way of knowing if these rules were added for the 2015 season or if they were indeed in effect for 2014. Hopefully this is something that Stewart’s legal team can determine.

Complaint Specifics

Reading through the complaint, there are items that the Ward’s state as fact that might be more opinion than fact.

No. 7: This item discusses the rules that all drivers agree to prior to racing focusing on exactly how drivers are supposed to respond to a yellow flag.  While it goes into detail about drivers needing to go either down low or up high to avoid a disabled vehicle, it conveniently does not mention that drivers are required to stay in their vehicles which, we are told, is always mentioned in the drivers’ meeting regardless of the series.

No. 13: “During the aforesaid final race on August, 9, 2014, Tony Stewart killed Kevin Ward, Jr.”

Did Tony Stewart cause the death of Kevin Ward, Jr.?  Based on the fact that criminal charges were not issued for Stewart, I have an issue with this declaration.  I and others doubt that Tony even saw him. 

No. 18:  “While the race was under a caution, Kevin Ward, Jr. exited his vehicle and made his way a short distance down the track on foot. While the race was under a caution flag, 13 other cars passed Ward on the low side of the track before Stewart made his way all around the track to the point where he was approaching Kevin Ward, Jr.  – and 6 cars safely passed Ward while standing on the track.”

Was Ward “standing” on the track? I don’t think his feet ever stopped moving.

No. 19:  “ Unlike the other race car drivers who had just passed Kevin A. Ward, Jr., instead of going low on the track per regulations of the event, Stewart came up the track directly toward Kevin Ward, Jr.”

This issue was clearly addressed in the press conference by Ontario County DA Michael Tantillo on September 24, 2014.  Tantillo said, “The videos did not demonstrate any aberrational driving by Tony Stewart until the point of impact with Kevin Ward.” It is worth mentioning that there was also a video, Tantillo mentions, that was the track video, which he stated was of better quality than the amateur video that most of us saw.

No. 20:  “As Stewart’s car approached Ward, who was standing on the track, Stewart climbed up, gunned his engine, causing his 700 horsepower vehicle to slide and strike Ward with his right rear tire, crushing Ward and flinging his body an estimated 25 feet down the track.”

No. 22:  “Upon information and belief, all other drivers who passed by Ward while he was standing on the track, easily were able to avoid Ward.”

Again, Ward was not standing on the track, he was actually moving even closer to on-coming traffic than when the previous six cars past.  He was waiting for Stewart and as Stewart’s car neared, Ward moved even closer.  Some even feel that Ward grabbed the wing of Stewart’s car. 

In some later declarations of fact in the summons, we start to see the Ward Family insinuate that Kevin was financially responsible for his parents.  

No. 39: “Prior to his death, Kevin Ward, Jr. was an able bodied man who devoted himself to the welfare and comfort of his family, who contributed substantially to the comfort, support and well being of his adult parents, who worked regularly for his father’s business – and who, but for being killed, would have one day taken over his father’s business.”

According to Kevin Ward, Jr.’s obituary, he was employed at his dad’s company, Westward Painting, in the roles of “head mechanic and painter.”  Junior worked for Senior, not the other way around.  So the argument that he contributed to their support is misleading.  Unless the Ward’s can prove that Junior handled the family finances, paid the bills and his paycheck was vital to their day-to-day survival, this is a distortion if not outright lie.  According to a records search, Westward Painting was started in 1992-93 and Kevin Ward, Sr. is the sole proprietor; Kevin, Jr. wasn’t even born yet. Unless the Ward’s can prove that Kevin, Jr. was the only one with the skills to be head mechanic and painter and that the business could never be sold or that no other member of the Ward Family was capable of taking over the business, this is not true at all.

Conclusion

The declarations go on to mention much of what we have all read in the past year, the Ward Family’s insistence that Tony’s behavior is what should be in question and no one else’s.  There is absolutely no mention of Ward, Jr.’s impaired judgment or drug use or even a hint that he played a role in his own death.

After reading through this complaint, now, more than ever, I would like to see Tony’s legal team respond to this complaint with their own list of declarations of fact.  The Ward Family has said repeatedly they want justice for their son.  I have looked through a whole series of synonyms for this word, and no where did I see the word “revenge.” Unfortunately, I think the Ward Family, confused by their pain, are not seeing the fine line between the two.

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20 thoughts on “The Civil Suit: The Estate of Kevin Ward, Jr. v. Anthony Wayne Stewart

  1. 👍 great write up. Blows my mind that such a so called famous brilliant atty took this convoluted 🐮💩 case for them. If you can unravel the fairytale point by point, surely Tony’s atty can as well.

  2. very well said, the legal team will need to see all financials of the wards due to the fact of ownership of business and show how much Kevin contributed to the business. finding of narcotics show that the autopsy was correctly done.shows he was impaired and using drugs. also show he did not obey the track rules and risked his life as well as others. As far as Tony is concerned he may have went high to get away from the other drivers, not knowing there was a person on the track and he had no place to go. The ward family and attorney’s need to mediate this further, its gonna be a long process and very much a waste of time and money. Looks like they just want money from tony, and not justice.

  3. Hi Kathy,
    I just hope they are getting good, sound legal advice and not making a mistake with this attorney. It appears that they attorneys are expecting to settle and not putting too much effort into this filing. If that’s the case, it would be a quick payday for them.

  4. I have followed this from the beginning. Being involved in this type of racing for years. You under how the cars works. It is clear looking at the video in slow motion what happened. I am also am interested in the law. You bring great questions in this article and
    your previous articles. I hope Tony doesn’t settle. Everyone needs to
    see this for what it is” Greed” and not taking responsibility for their
    sons actions that caused his own
    death.

  5. I pray that Tony Stewart does NOT settle this lawsuit. This family wants “revenge”–not justice. The Ward’s attorney, Mark Lanier, doesn’t garner any respect from me either, and I find their choice laughable. His website says that he is a “Attorney, Author, Teacher, Pastor and Expert Story Teller”. The Ward family was absolutely coached by an expert story teller when they taped an interview with ABC for a fluff piece instead of giving a live interview with a good journalist that would have pressured them for honest answers. Also, how can a pastor follow the tenets of his faith AND file frivolous lawsuits against innocent men? Near as I can tell, he is breaking 3 of the 10 commandments in this lawsuit alone. Shame on all of them.

    http://www.lanierlawfirm.com/attorneys/w_mark_lanier.htm

    PS–Have we discovered the paternity of the child, Kevin Arthur Ward III, that was born on May 23, 2015 in Port Leyden, NY? And if this child truly is the son of Ward Jr, does this mean the mother will then have the right to sue Tony Stewart as well?

  6. If the child born on May 23, 2015 is indeed Kevin Arthur Ward the I’ll.. He is the heir of the entire estate NOT his parents.

  7. Hi Teresa,
    Thank you for commenting. Yes, that is something I am aware of and there are a lot of questions there. I have chosen to not mention this child because I feel it is inappropriate to bring him into this. But, we will have to wait and see how this piece plays out. The Ward Family has not made the existence of this baby public so I am going to do the same.

  8. Pingback: Musing Mary Ann
  9. Wow, so much denial in this blog it’s appalling…Still trying to convince yourselves Stewart isn’t responsible for killing Kevin Ward…You should all watch the video with your eyes open this time, you might learn something…By the way Maryann, Tony Stewart is the one on trial here for killing a man, not Kevin Ward jr…By the way none of you will be able to help Stewart in a court of law by spewing your lies and excuses for Stewart all over the internet, it may have helped for the criminal case but it won’t do any good once it goes to the civil trial…

  10. This is a carbon copy of several of your recent comments but ok – and yes, all of this will come out in the civil suit because it is about placing blame and there is plenty of blame to point at the Ward camp. I am still waiting for the evidence that proves that the toxicology was botched.

  11. Thank you for keeping us updated, but I do feel that the wards are just being greedy. and trying to find fault with someone because they know their son done wrong. The only one going to make any money with this lawsuit is the attorneys. Tony has gone through enough and seems that it would be better for the attorneys to go to trial and put an end to all of this. settlements only show the wards want money to who is to say they will not sue tony for something else later. sad situation…

  12. Hello Tay – I appreciate the question and while I don’t know anything about it. I do want to let you and my readers know that I strongly feel that we need to keep this baby out of this conversation. While it is an interesting turn, regardless, this baby is innocent and we need to keep him out of the conversation for no other reason than it being the right thing to do. Thanks!

  13. The baby’s name has been changed. He is no longer Kevin Ward III. His name is now Christian. That being said he is innocent, however his mother is not for passing the kid off as Kevin’s son and putting the family through even more. I am on Stewart’s side and believe your points are spot on.

  14. Hi Brook –

    Thanks for the info – just curious – does the baby still have the Ward last name? I have purposely only spoken about the baby in the comments because, as you said, the baby is innocent and he will not be dragged into anything on this page. Thanks for the comment!

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