Wal-Mart sued for negligence by Tracy Morgan, friends

Actor and comedian Tracy Morgan, his friend and personal assistant continue healing from the fatality accident on June 7 when the limo bus they were in collided with a Wal-Mart semi truck on a New Jersey turnpike. Morgan, released from a rehab facility last week has filed suit against Wal-Mart Stores.

He and comedian Ardley Fuqua Jr. and Jeffery MIllea, Morgan’s personal assistant, sued Wal-Mart Stores and its transportation subsidiary in federal court on Thursday (July 10). The plaintiffs want a jury trial and compensatory and punitive damages in addition to costs of their care and loss of income stemming from the injuries sustained in the accident. 

The complaint alleges three counts of negligence against Wal-Mart, with a fourth count of “loss of consortium” from Millea’s wife, who was eight months pregnant at the time of the accident. The suit claims that Wal-Mart was careless and negligent in the ownership and operation of its motor vehicle that injured the three men and killed their friend, James McNair, 62.

In response to the lawsuit Wal-Mart released the following statement: “This has been a terrible tragedy. We wish Mr. Morgan, Mr. Fuqua Jr., and Mr. Millea full recoveries. Our thoughts continue to go out to them, their families and friends, as well as to the families and friends of everyone involved, including Mr. McNair who lost his life. We are deeply sorry that one of our trucks was involved. As we’ve said, we’re cooperating fully in the ongoing investigation. We know it will take some time to resolve all of the remaining issues as a result of the accident, but we’re committed to doing the right thing for all involved.”

A federal transportation safety report found Wal-Mart driver Kevin Roper was traveling 20 miles over the speed limit at 65 miles per hour when his semi-tractor trailer collided with a luxury van on the New Jersey Turnpike on June 7.

A preliminary accident report filed by the National Transportation Safety Board found Roper traveling at 65 miles an hour for about a minute prior to crashing with the van which was flipped over upon impact.

The report also said Roper was within the allowable driving time of 14 hours on the road at 13.5 hours. Investigators claim that Roper swerved to avoid a crash on the turnpike and in so doing his rig slammed into the back of Morgan’s limo van. The report states that speed limit signs reducing the speed from 55 mph to 45 mph were posted about a half-mile before the crash. The speed limit had been reduced because of construction.

In addition, the NTSB report said investigators are compiling and analyzing information to determine the activities of Roper and the amount of rest he received in the hours and days preceding the crash. Roper resides in Jonesboro, Ga., but works out of a Walmart transportation hub in Delaware, a 700-mile commute. The lawsuit claims that Wal-Mart should have known, that Roper was awake for more than 24 hours before the accident occurred.  

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“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. Additionally, there were many Wal- Mart distribution facilities closer to Mr. Roper’s home — including at least nine in Georgia alone—which would have significantly reduced Mr. Roper’s commute to work,” the suit states.

Roper pled not guilty to assault with a vehicle and was put on administrative leave by Wal-Mart pending the investigation.

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