By John Cooper, Virginia Trucking Accident Attorney
A case in which actor-comedian Tracy Morgan sued Wal-Mart over a big rig highway crash that killed a friend and left Morgan and two friends seriously injured, was settled recently.
A recent filing in federal court in Newark, New Jersey referred to a confidential settlement reached by the two sides.
A report in NewJersey.com referred to comments by Bentonville, Arkansas-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc. referring to an “amicable settlement.” Details weren’t disclosed.
A Wal-Mart truck hit the back of a limo van carrying Morgan and the others back from a show in Delaware in June, 2014. The accident claimed the life of James “Jimmy Mack” McNair. Morgan suffered a traumatic brain injury, a broken leg and broken ribs.
The report stated Wal-Mart reached a settlement with McNair’s two children this January in a wrongful death case. McNair grew up with Morgan in New York City and was a friend and mentor to him over the years.
Wal-Mart made it clear earlier this year it was working toward settlements with the victims of the crash.
“We know there is nothing we can do to change what happened to Mr. McNair,” company spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan stated in January. “We’re committed to doing what’s right.”
A criminal action is underway as well as the law suit. Kevin Roper, the truck driver from Jonesboro, Georgia, faces a number of criminal charges, including death by auto, in state court. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges. He wasn’t a defendant in Morgan’s federal lawsuit.
Morgan made his name on “Saturday Night Live” and “30 Rock. He sustained what his lawyer, Benedict Morelli, referred to as a traumatic brain injury. Morelli said in March that Morgan had not made a full recovery but was “working very hard to get better, physically, emotionally and mentally.”
Morgan had hoped to attend the 40th anniversary show of “Saturday Night Live” in February but was unable to due to his ongoing issues.
Limo van passengers Ardley Fuqua, of Jersey City, New Jersey, and Jeffrey Millea, of Shelton, Connecticut, also sustained serious injuries in the June crash and were plaintiffs in the lawsuit against Wal-Mart.
There was a suggestion that fatigue played a role in this terrible accident. The criminal complaint said Roper was operating the truck without having slept for more than 24 hours.
A preliminary investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board suggested that the trucker was driving 65 mph in the minute before he hit Morgan’s limo van on the New Jersey Turnpike. The speed limit on that stretch of the turnpike is 55 mph and was lowered to 45 mph that night because of construction.
Authorities stated Roper apparently failed to slow for traffic ahead of him and then swerved to avoid an impact but instead his big rig smashed into the back of Morgan’s limo. The scenario of a tired trucker hitting slowed down traffic in a work zone has been seen in a number of high profile trucking accidents in recent months. If you have been hurt or if you have lost a loved one in a trucking crash call our big rig accident lawyers for help at 866-455-6657.