NASCAR Driver Tony Stewart Named In Wrongful Death Lawsuit

I wrote extensively last year about the fatal car crash involving Tony Stewart when his sprint car crashed into another driver who had exited his vehicle during the race. The sprint car race took place Canandaigua Motorsports Park on Aug. 9, 2014.

As many recall, a criminal investigation occurred following the fatal car accident and Mr. Stewart was absolved of any criminal wrongdoing, including negligent homicide, often referred to as manslaughter. Manslaughter charges can be sought when the crime does not rise to the level of an intentional act. Rather, the criminal act is based on some sort conscious disregard for others, which leads to another’s death. These types of charges are often brought in fatal drunk driving cases. Regardless, a grand jury was convened and they did not believe that Mr. Stewart’s actions were intentional or rose to the level of manslaughter. The grand jury concluded that Kevin Ward’s death was an accident.

Being cleared of criminal actions did not absolve Mr. Stewart from liability in civil court. The family of the deceased driver has filed a civil wrongful death lawsuit alleging Stewart of gross negligence, saying he gunned his engine and put his car into a skid as 20-year-old Kevin Ward Jr. walked onto the track after a crash at Canandaigua Motorsports Park on Aug. 9, 2014. The car struck Ward, and he was killed. The lawsuit notes Stewart’s reputation for having a temper and claims that Stewart deliberately veered toward Ward after the collision.

It will be interesting to see how far this case goes into litigation and whether the case actually goes to trial. Mr. Stewart’s legal team will no doubt argue that Mr. Ward was negligent himself by exiting his car and putting himself into harm’s way. If this case goes to the jury, I could see them concluding that Mr. Ward was at least partially at fault for stepping out into the track. The key will be whether the Ward family can prove that Mr. Stewart skidded intentionally and that was a negligent act considering he was so close to the other driver. Further, Ward’s family must show that the skidding action caused Mr. Stewart’s vehicle to fishtail and strike Mr. Ward.

If you or someone you live has been involved in a Chicago car accident or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

FDA Examining Blue Bell Ice Cream For Alleged Listeria Outbreak

The Washington Post reported this week the Federal Food and Drug Administration is investigating a listeria outbreak in Kansas that may have been caused by Blue Bell ice cream products. Three (3) people have died from the listeria, and a total of five (5) have gotten sick between January 2014 and January 2015. Officials also detected three of those strains in a Texas Blue Bell production plant, where the company is based. Health departments in South Carolina and Texas also found listeria in certain Blue Bell products.

According to the FDA, Listeria is the name of a bacteria found in soil and water and some animals, including poultry and cattle. It can be present in raw milk and foods made from raw milk. Listeria is unlike many other germs because it can grow even in the cold temperature of the refrigerator. Listeria is killed by cooking and pasteurization. Listeriosis, an infection caused by Listeria, can pose major risks for certain populations. Namely, pregnant women, older adults, and individuals with weakened immune systems are at greater risk.

Blue Bell Creameries announced it recalled the affected products and had them removed from store shelves. “One of our machines produced a limited amount of frozen snacks with a potential listeria problem.”

Blue Bell’s cup, pint and half-gallon products are not affected by this current outbreak. The FDA has warned consumers not to eat any of these products:

  • Chocolate Chip Country Cookie
  • Great Divide Bar
  • Sour Pop Green Apple Bar
  • Cotton Candy Bar
  • Scoops
  • Vanilla Stick Slices
  • Almond Bars
  • 6 pack Cotton Candy Bars
  • 6 pack Sour Pop Green Apple Bars
  • 12 pack No Sugar Added Mooo Bar

This is obviously a scary situation for people who may have been affected by this product. There is the potential that the families of those who have died could have a wrongful death lawsuit against Blue Bell if they can prove that the listeria bacteria came from their plant and made these people sick. This type of wrongful death lawsuit would be filed as a product liability case as the company is alleged to have put a dangerous or defective product into the stream of commerce. I have not seen any news of lawsuits that were filed against Blue Bell for this outbreak of listeria.

If you or someone you love has been injured from a defective or dangerous product or has a Chicago wrongful death case, then contact Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

NASCAR Driver Tony Stewart Could Face Civil & Criminal Charges For Fatal Crash

NASCAR driver Tony Stewart made national headlines for a fatal crash that occurred Saturday night after his sprint car struck and killed Kevin Ward Jr. in a Saturday night race at Canandaigua (N.Y.) Motorsports Park. To recap, Stewart, who entered this race despite being scheduled for an actual NASCAR event the next day, had an altercation with Ward Jr. while rounding the track which resulted in knocking Ward Jr’s sprint car to the side of the track. A furious Ward Jr. exited his vehicle and walked onto the race track and pointed his finger at Stewart. As Steward was passing Ward Jr., the back end of his car fishtailed and struck Ward Jr. and ultimately killed him right at the scene.

Criminal Charges:

I can honestly say with a straight face that Tony Stewart will not be facing murder charges for this fatal crash as it appears clear that he did not purposely try to injure or kill Ward Jr. The county sheriff and prosecutor are investigating the case right now and I believe it is possible we could see manslaughter charges against Stewart. According to the criminal law attorney  the level of charge depends upon the intent or what is called mens rea. The prosecutor could conclude that Stewart acted with reckless indifference towards Ward Jr. by driving so close and swerving his car in a way that caused it to fishtail into Ward Jr. The prosecutor may conclude that Steward should have known these actions would cause great bodily harm. These are the types of charges that result often times from drunk driving or reckless driving deaths. The intent (mens rea) was not purposeful but it could be argued that Stewart acted with such indifference towards Ward Jr. that he should be charged. Even if charges are brought, I think this will be a very tough case for the prosecutor because Ward Jr. was acting reckless himself by walking out onto the race track and could be viewed merely as an accident.

Civil Liability:

There is no question that the family of Ward Jr. will file a wrongful death lawsuit against both Tony Stewart and his team and the owners of the race track. The lawsuit will allege that Stewart acted negligently by driving so close and driving in a way causing it to fishtail into Ward Jr. Further, Ward Jr.’s attorneys will argue that Stewart, a veteran driver, should have know that his car could have reacted that way and a fish tail action could have swerved into Ward Jr. Again, like the criminal case, this will be a tough to prove for Ward Jr.’s family because their son acted negligently himself by walking onto the track. Ward Jr., no doubt, will be found at least partially at fault for his own death. This is referred to as comparative fault, which depending on the percentage found by the jury, could reduce any award given to the family. If Stewart (and the race track) are found at least 51% at fault, then Stewart and the race track owners will have to pay damages to the Ward Jr. family for his wrongful death.

This is a case I will be following closely and will definitely be posting about again once we learn more information.

If you or someone you love has been involved in an Illinois wrongful death case or a Chicago car crash, then call Chicago personal injury attorney, Aaron Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

Lawsuit Filed Against Lockport Police Officer For Fatal DUI Accident

A Lockport police officer, who allegedly made a deadly mistake by drinking and driving, is now facing a wrongful death lawsuit.

The family of a Chicago man, who was killed Dec. 20 when an allegedly intoxicated off-duty Lockport police officer crashed into his car, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit, seeking more than $20 million.

Man Wong, 29, 2417 S. Wentworth Ave., died in the crash on the Stevenson Expressway near Central Avenue in which police officer Edward Stapinski was charged with reckless homicide and aggravated drunken driving.

Stapinski, 34, of Lockport, was southbound on the Stevenson about 9:30 p.m., when he lost control of his car, struck the concrete median barrier and went over the median into the northbound lanes, where it struck a car driven by Wong, according to state police.

Named as defendants in the lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Cook County Circuit Court, are Stapinski, WestEnd Bar and Grill in Chicago, where Stapinski allegedly was drinking before the crash, and the Four Corners Tavern Group, which operates the bar.

The lawsuit claims that Stapinski was “severely impaired” after drinking alcohol at the tavern and that his blood-alcohol level was recorded at a hospital at about three times the legal limit.

Depending on Officer Stapinski’s insurance policy, this may be a case where an underinsurance or uninsured claim is made.

If you or someone you know has been involved in an Illinois car accident or Illinois truck accident or have been charged with DUI, aggravated drunk driving or another traffic violation, then call attorney Aaron Bryant for a free consultation at 312-588-3384.

Police Consider Homicide Charges After Baby Dies In Car Crash

An incredibly sad story came in  from the new wires yesterday. A 27 year old woman, Kim Brown, had her vehicle struck by another vehicle that allegedly ran a red light.  Brown, who died at the scene, was rushed to Stroger Hospital as paramedics attempted to save her unborn child.

Doctors at Stroger Hospital delivered the boy by cesarean section after Wednesday’s car crash. He was listed in “extremely critical” condition and died just before noon today, according to hospital officials.

“The baby suffered injuries (from the car crash) in addition to being premature,” said Stroger Hospital spokesman Marcel Bright. The boy had been 6 or 7 months along.

The driver of the minivan, a 39-year old man from the West Side, was taken to Loretto Hospital after Wednesday’s car crashcar crash and was in police custody this morning, authorities said.

He has so far been cited for running a red light, driving on a revoked license and driving without insurance. Even before the baby died, police had been seeking reckless homicide charges against the man. The Cook County state’s attorney’s office is looking into the case, officials said.

The driver cited in the car crash has been previously convicted 15 times for driving without a license, or on a suspended or revoked license, and has not been properly licensed since September 2002, according to the Illinois secretary of state’s office. His license has also been suspended twice for driving without insurance, once in the case of an auto accident.

The auto accident occurred around 11:30 a.m. when a Ford van heading east on Washington Boulevard was struck by the Chrysler Town and Country minivan that was heading south on Kostner Avenue, running a red light, police said.

The impact pushed the Ford into Brown, a 30-year-old woman and two small girls. The 30-year-old woman and the girls, ages 3 and 1, were in good condition at Mt. Sinai Hospital.

This is a tough story to report about and discuss. There is nothing positive for me to mention. The icing on the cake for the Brown family is that it does not appear that the man driving the minivan has appropriate insurance to compensate the family for an obvious wrongful death lawsuit.  Keep your wits about you folks. There are some crazy and irresponsible drivers out there.

To read the full story, click here.

If you or your family have been involved in a car or trucking accident, then call attorney Aaron Bryant for a free consultation at 312-588-3384.