The Kansas City Chiefs won’t go to trial this week over the December 2013 beating death of a Smithville man in the Arrowhead Stadium parking lot, opting instead to settle out of court.
It’s the second lawsuit the Chiefs have settled this year over fan safety, and there’s a third slated for trial next month involving a fan who was injured during a fracas in the grandstands.
The settlement comes after the NFL’s Security Committee issued a report in May, the contents of which were not disclosed. But Commissioner Roger Goodell told reporters that the league wants to address “the best practices we want to have in all our stadiums to insure that our fans have a good experience when they come to our stadiums.”
Tight security hasn’t always been a priority at NFL stadiums across the country, particularly Arrowhead.
Kyle Van Winkle was beaten to death in the stadium’s parking lot during the Dec. 1, 2013, home game between the Chiefs and the Denver Broncos.
Joshua Bradley pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and is on probation. But Van Winkle’s widow, Jennifer, sued the Chiefs for wrongful death.
Jury selection was supposed to start this week in the case, but Van Winkle's attorney, Bill Carr, said the case “has been resolved to the mutual satisfaction of the parties.” The terms of the settlement were not disclosed.
Carr added: “We’re glad to see this part of their tragedy closed.”
The Chiefs said the team would not "have any additional statement" beyond what Carr said.
Also in 2013, Adrien Caye was allegedly attacked while trying to break up a fight in the stands at Arrowhead. A lawsuit filed on his behalf cites slow response by security to defuse the situation, and a second trial is slated to start in July after last summer’s trial resulted in a mistrial.
In addition to that, the Chiefs settled a lawsuit in January filed by Nick Sciolaro and Dean Karas over a 2013 altercation at the Truman Sports Complex while leaving a Chiefs game.
Carr told KCUR in 2016 that the intent of the Van Winkle lawsuit, aside from securing compensation for Van Winkle’s widow, was “to prevent this from ever happening again, trying to effect change and trying to establish dialogue with the Kansas City Chiefs in order to make sure that no other family loses a husband and father because of something like this that happened by simply going to a football game.”
Does Carr believe there’ll be changes at Arrowhead?
“No comment on that,” he said Tuesday.
Greg Echlin is a freelance sports reporter for KCUR 89.3.