Tracy Morgan sues Wal-Mart for negligence in highway crash (+video)

Tracy Morgan claims in a lawsuit that Wal-Mart was negligent when truck driver Kevin Roper, who had been awake for over 24 hours, crashed a Wal-Mart tractor trailer into Morgan's vehicle, killing comedian James McNair, and injuring Morgan.

By , Associated Press

Tracy Morgan has sued Wal-Mart over last month's highway crash that seriously injured him and killed a fellow comedian.

The lawsuit, filed Thursday in US District Court in New Jersey, claims Wal-Mart was negligent when a driver of one of its tractor-trailers rammed into Morgan's limousine van. The complaint claims the retail giant should have known the driver had been awake for over 24 hours, and that his commute of 700 miles from his home in Georgia to work in Delaware was "unreasonable." It also alleges the driver fell asleep at the wheel.

"As a result of Wal-Mart's gross, reckless, willful, wanton, and intentional conduct, it should be appropriately punished with the imposition of punitive damages," according to the complaint.

Recommended: Do you belong on the road? Take our driver's test.

The June 7 wreck on the New Jersey Turnpike killed 62-year-old comedian James McNair, who went by the name Jimmy Mack. Comedian Ardley Fuqua and Jeffrey and Krista Millea, who were injured as passengers in the limo, are also named as plaintiffs.

Morgan, the former "Saturday Night Live" and "30 Rock" star, suffered a broken leg and broken ribs in the crash and is currently in a rehabilitation center. Fuqua is recovering from crash-related injuries.

Truck driver Kevin Roper, 35, of Jonesboro, Georgia, has pleaded not guilty to death by auto and assault by auto charges. A criminal complaint also accuses him of not sleeping for more than 24 hours before the crash, a violation of New Jersey law.

A report by federal transportation safety investigators said Roper was driving 65 mph in the 60 seconds before he slammed into the limo van. The speed limit on that stretch of the turnpike is 55 mph and was lowered to 45 mph that night because of construction.

Roper had been on the job about 13 1/2 hours at the time of the crash, the report concluded. Federal rules permit truck drivers to work up to 14 hours a day, with a maximum of 11 hours behind the wheel.

The lawsuit claims:

Wal-Mart knew, or should have known, that Mr. Roper was awake for more than 24 consecutive hours immediately before the subject accident on June 7, 2014.

Wal-Mart knew or should have known that it was unreasonable for Mr. Roper to commute more than 700 miles from his home in Jonesboro, Georgia to work at a Wal-Mart facility in Smyrna, Delaware, especially immediately before he was to commence a long shift operating a truck that weighed approximately 30 ± 40 tons.

Morgan, a New York City native, was returning from a standup performance at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino in Delaware when the crash occurred.

Morgan's lawsuit seeks a jury trial and punitive and compensatory damages.

A message seeking comment from Wal-Mart was not immediately returned Saturday. An email seeking comment from Morgan's publicist was not immediately answered.

Share this story:
 
 
Make a Difference
Inspired? Here are some ways to make a difference on this issue.
Follow Stories Like This
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.
 

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...