Mediator named for lawsuit against Stewart

A mediator has been appointed in a lawsuit involving Columbus native and retired NASCAR driver Tony Stewart and the family for the late Kevin Ward Jr., according to

The mediation session is scheduled for April 18 in St. Louis, with Glenn Norton serving as mediator, the website reported.

Johnny Cargill, director of marketing and communications for the Houston-based Lanier Law Firm, which is representing the Ward Family, confirmed the date and added that mediation would be non-binding, the website reported.

Stewart and Ward were competing in an Empire Super Sprint race Aug. 9, 2014, at the Canandaigua (New York) Motorsports Park, where Stewart’s car struck and killed Ward, who was 20. The 25-lap race was under caution when Ward, who had exited his car, was struck. Stewart’s car was behind another, which swerved to avoid the driver, before he hit Ward, who died from massive blunt trauma.

The following month, a 23-person Ontario County, New York, grand jury declined to indict Stewart on either of two charges: manslaughter in the second degree and criminally negligent homicide.

On Aug. 4, 2015, Kevin Ward Sr. and Pam Ward, the father and mother of Kevin Ward Jr., filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Stewart that blames him for the younger Ward’s death and seeks damages, according to court documents.

Stewart, 45, who retired from NASCAR Cup competition in 2016 after three championships and 49 career wins, contends Ward’s death was an accident.

The Ward vs. Stewart parties were ordered on Dec. 12, 2016, to participate in the Mandatory Mediation Program, according to court documents with the U.S. Northern District Court of New York. The mediation program is used to encourage parties to reach a resolution to their dispute, but doesn’t compel them to settle.

Attorney Brian Gwitt of Woods Oviatt Gilman, the Rochester, New York-based firm representing Stewart, did not immediately respond to a request by for comment.