Judge OKs $18M in WWF Wrongful Death

Wednesday, November 8th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A judge has approved an $18 million settlement in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of wrestler Owen Hart against the World Wrestling Federation and the city.

Circuit Judge Douglas Long Jr. approved the settlement Tuesday after an hour-long hearing in the Jackson County Courthouse. WWF and its insurer will pay the settlement amount.

Hart, known as the Blue Blazer, died May 23, 1999, during a wrestling event on pay-per-view television seen around the country. Hart plunged 78 feet when the quick-release mechanism on his harness prematurely opened as he was being lowered into the ring.

The 46-count suit contended the stunt was dangerous and poorly planned and that the harness system was defective.

Under the settlement, Hart's widow will get $10 million, two children will get $3 million each, and his parents will get $1 million each.

Long approved the settlement over the objection of the manufacturer of Hart's trigger-latch shackle, Lewmar Inc., which argued that the settlement could impair its ability to defend itself against the WWF's claims for reimbursement.

``We're pleased that the Hart family is able to put this behind them, but we look forward to continuing this litigation so as to place responsibility on the appropriate parties,'' WWF attorney Craig O'Dear said.

The WWF also wants Amspec Inc., which sold the shackle to Hart's stunt rigger, to help pay the costs.

Amspec filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Van Nuys, Calif., on Monday. The bankruptcy petition lists the WWF as a contingent creditor.