Martha Hart wasn’t sure she’d ever get justice or accountability for her husband’s tragic death but explains how creating the Owen Hart Foundation finally helped her do that.
Martha is the latest guest on Talk Is Jericho and she spoke about the lawsuits over Owen’s accidental death at the WWF Over The Edge pay-per-view on May 23, 1999. Hart says she was sued by WWE for breach of her late husband’s contract, noting that she touches on it in next week’s episode of Dark Side Of The Ring but goes on to explain that the company can only be sued in Connecticut. She claims the company tried to “muddy the waters” and drag things out because they had the financial means to do so and she wasn’t sure she’d ever get justice for her husband’s death.
“It had gotten so nasty and so ugly, my lawyers couldn’t even conduct depositions. We had to have a judge in the room just to conduct basic depositions because the lawyers were always at each other and they couldn’t get anything done. Vince sued me because he wanted the case moved to Connecticut. In Missouri [where Owen died] you’re allowed punitive damages but in Connecticut you’re not. So he was worried, oh my God, there’s so much negligence here that the punitive damages are going to be through the roof. So he sued me, which was really tough because I had to actually hire lawyers in Connecticut to fight that lawsuit while I was battling the wrongful death lawsuit in Kansas City.
“Then with the [Hart] family working against me, everything was such a mess. It was just so discouraging and awful. We wanted to stop the delay—my lawyers said ‘if we put a number on the table, they won’t accept it but what happens is the interest starts running on that number and that will prompt them to speed up the lawsuit.’ It was a tactic.”
Martha says she didn’t want them to accept because she wanted to go to trial and wanted WWE to be held accountable and she wanted justice. She was unsure she’d get justice if the offer was accepted, but the lawyer said it all came down to money in the end and no one would get any jail time, which Martha said was ‘like a bomb dropped.’
“No matter how this thing ends, [I decided] I am going to start the Owen Hart Foundation. It was just this insight that was instant and it was like it uplifted me. I was like ‘I don’t care how this ends because I know what I’m doing with it.’ That’s how the evolution of my thought process got me to the point where I could settle the case. Before, I looked at settlement as failure. I wanted that to be in court and I wanted accountability, but then I realized I wasn’t going to get the justice that I was looking for legally so I was going to create my own justice.”
She says the foundation was created in his image to remind people of how kind and non-judgmental Owen was. Martha went on to share a story about how Owen gave a homeless man his hotel room and explained what the foundation did in their community. Check out the full interview below:
WrestleZone spoke to the producer of the series, Evan Husney, while the final touches for the Owen Hart episode were still being applied. Evan promised a different perspective that’s never been offered before, one of Owen’s immediate family, including his children who have never publicly spoken about the incident until now.
“You’re going to learn a lot. I can just say in terms of the perspective that’s going to be shared, from the family, from their point of view,” Husney said. “We’re still putting the final touches on the Owen episode now, but it’s really shaping up to be something truly special and I think that is definitely that is going to be something that feels new, in terms of perspective.”
Next week, the season will be capped off with an episode covering the tragic story of the death of Owen Hart at WWF Over The Edge 1999. The official trailer can viewed below.
Recommended viewing: Dark Side Of The Ring Season 1