Attorneys representing the Hart family, a Canadian wrestling dynasty (father Stu is an ex-pro and brother Bret "The Hitman" Hart is a staple on the WCW circuit), reached an "amicable" agreement with the WWF, the city of Kansas City and other defendants in the wrongful death case.
Known to WWF fans as the Blue Blazer, Owen Hart, 34, plunged to the floor of Kansas City's Kemper Arena during a May 23, 1999, pay-per-view special in which he was supposed to have been lowered gently by cable into the ring.
"We had been trying to negotiate a settlement since July," Pamela Fischer, the Hart's attorney, told Reuters. "We accepted their offer on Thursday."
A Missouri Appeals Court still needs to approve the settlement. Although terms of the deal were not revealed, a source close to the WWF told the Kansas City Star the multibillion pro wrestling and entertainment empire will pay the family approximately $18 million.
In the wrongful death complaint, the Hart family had lambasted the WWF for putting television ratings and dollars ahead of safety and that directly led to Hart's fateful plunge.
Strapped into a harness, Hart was positioned high above the arena, which was packed with 16,000 fans. However, the mechanism on the harness malfunctioned and disengaged, causing the wrestler to plummet 78 feet to the ring where he landed on one of its padded metal corners. He was taken to a nearby hospital where he eventually bled to death of internal injuries.
Three weeks after the accident, Hart's widow, parents and two young children filed a 46-count complaint accusing the WWF of creating a dangerous situation through poor planning, and using defective equipment. Named in the suit were WWF Chairman Vince McMahon, his wife, Linda, and Kansas City, which owns the venue.
The well-publicized case hasn't been without controversy. The WWF had accused the Harts' attorneys of attempting to tamper with witnesses, but the organization dropped the claim as part of the settlement.
And, as part of the deal, the WWF agreed to sue the manufacturers of the malfunctioning rigging system.