NY judge: Racer’s family can pursue claims against Stewart

Tony Stewart
FILE - In this Sept. 19, 2014, file photo, Tony Stewart sits in his car during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup auto race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, N.H. Stewart says in court papers filed Friday, Aug. 28, 2015, that he didn’t see fellow driver Kevin Ward Jr. walking along the track before striking and killing him during a dirt track race at Canandaigua Motorsports Park on Aug. 9, 2014. (AP Photo/Cheryl Senter, File)

UTICA, N.Y. (AP) – A federal judge has ruled the family of a race car driver fatally injured when struck by Tony Stewart’s sprint car can pursue its claims against the former NASCAR star.

In a 28-page ruling issued Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge David Hurd dismissed Stewart’s counterclaim and said the case was best left to a jury. Hurd concluded it was inappropriate at this early stage of the case to draw factual conclusions from competing evidence in the death of Kevin Ward Jr.

Ward was killed in August 2014 at Canandaigua Motorsports Park after his car crashed into the wall lining the dirt track in upstate New York after a bump from Stewart’s vehicle. Ward exited his sprint car and was walking in the direction of Stewart’s car when he was struck and killed by the veteran driver.

The family claims Stewart caused the collision by improperly maneuvering toward the victim after the race was placed under caution.

In October, Stewart and his attorneys had requested that all but one of the family’s four claims be thrown out.

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