In July of 2014, the personal injury lawyer for Tracey Morgan filed a personal injury lawsuit against Walmart. The driver of the tractor-trailer driver working for the company at the time of the crash. The personal injury lawyer for the family of Morgan’s passenger, James McNair, also filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Walmart. According to USA Today, they have recently reached a settlement with the company. Last June, the Saturday Night Live comedian Tracy Morgan was critically injured in a crash between his limo van and a tractor-trailer. Two other passengers were critically injured as well, and comedian James McNair, known as “Jimmy Mack,” was killed.
James McNair was only 62 years old at the time of his death. He left behind two children, Danita (19) and Jamel (26). His family claimed the tractor-trailer slammed into the vehicle occupied by McNair and that the driver, Kevin Roper, was driving while overly fatigued.
Roper faces the criminal charges of death by auto and assault by auto for his part in the crash. He pled not guilty to those charges, but the National Transportation Safety Board concluded after their preliminary investigation that he was speeding at the time of the crash. He was found to be going 65 miles per hour in a 45 mile per hour construction zone. Morgan’s limo bus was at a stop when it was hit from behind. Roper’s case is still pending.
Personal injury lawyers have named Walmart as a defendant in their suits because Roper had been on the road for more than 24 hours prior to the crash. The plaintiffs claim that Walmart should have known that after commuting 750 miles and then working for 14 hours on his Walmart shift, Roper would go over the federal limit of 11 hours of driving and 14 hours of daily on-duty time.
The defendents in McNair’s case agreed to an out-of-court settlement, details were not revealed. According to the family’s personal injury lawyer, they were pleased with the outcome. Walmart did not admit to any wrongdoing related to the crash, but stated they are working toward settlements with the others who were injured.
In September 2014, Walmart seemed to blame Morgan for his injuries, stating that he and the other passengers were responsible “in whole or in part” because they weren’t wearing seat belts. A Walmart spokesman later stated that the comment was part of a mandatory legal response to Morgan’s personal injury lawsuit.
Morgan suffered a traumatic brain injury in the accident, and was in a wheelchair for over three months. Some reports indicated that he was undergoing therapy for his injuries, and that he may never be quite the same.
A few months ago, Roper had filed a motion to delay Morgan’s lawsuit until his own criminal charges were resolved. His attorney stated that the outcome of Morgan’s lawsuit could negatively affect Roper’s case, even though Morgan has not named Roper as a defendant.
U.S. District Judge Michael Schipp recently ruled that Morgan’s case would go forward as scheduled.