Actor Tracy Morgan, 45, was among several people injured in a six-car accident on the New Jersey Turnpike in June, for which they are suing Walmart for negligence.
The lawsuit, filed in July, questions whether the Walmart truck driver, Kevin Roper, 64, was fatigued at the time of the crash. According to the lawsuit, Roper had commuted approximately 700 miles from his home in Jonesboro, Georgia to a Walmart facility in Smyrna, Delaware before starting his shift.
It was alleged that Roper had been awake for more than 24 consecutive hours prior to the crash and should not have been driving when he hit the limousine from behind, killing one passenger and leaving Morgan critically injured.
After the crash, Roper was charged with causing the accident, and police said they believed he was dozing and didn’t see traffic slowing in front of his 18-wheeler until it was too late, as reported by ABC News.
Tracy Morgan is countering Walmart’s claim that he and other passengers should have been wearing seatbelts when the Walmart truck hit their limo. He states he and his friends were doing nothing wrong and can’t believe Walmart blames him.
Walmart said that the passengers’ injuries were at least partly caused by their “failure to properly wear an appropriate available seatbelt restraint device,” according to the AP. Walmart said, had Morgan and the others been wearing seatbelts, “all or a portion of the injuries could have been diminished or minimized.”
Investigators previously declined to say whether Morgan or other passengers were wearing their seatbelts during the June 7th crash. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which regulates motor vehicle standards, requires belts in each seat for buses or other RVs that weigh under 10,000 pounds, and the 2012 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter limo weighs a little more than half that.
Morgan suffered serious injuries in the crash, including a broken femur, broken nose and several broken ribs, among other injuries. His friend, comedian James McNair, ‘Jimmy Mack’ was killed in the crash.
The retail giant said in a statement Tuesday, “Walmart is committed to working to resolve all of the remaining issues as a result of the accident. As part of the ordinary course of legal proceedings, Walmart filed an initial response yesterday to the lawsuit that included facts and defenses that may impact the case moving forward. While we were required to respond to the lawsuit, we have also taken steps to encourage settlement discussions. Our thoughts continue to go out to everyone involved, and we remain committed to doing what’s right.”
Morgan is still undergoing physical therapy and rehabilitation. It is unclear whether he will ever perform again.
Even though Morgan and the other passengers in the limo were not wearing seatbelts, the truck driver never should have been behind the wheel of the 18-wheeler after being awake for 24 hours.
Perhaps James McNair would have survived if he had worn his seatbelt, and maybe Morgan’s injuries wouldn’t have been as serious. Whether or not they wore seatbelts would not have prevented the crash.
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