Comedian Tracy Morgan has filed suit against Walmart after he was critically injured in a multi-vehicle collision in New Jersey on June 7, 2014 that killed Morgan’s friend, James McNair, and injured several others. Police believe the truck driver, Kevin Roper of Georgia, dozed off while driving the Walmart tractor trailer, allowing his large rig to slam into the Sprinter limo bus Morgan and six others were riding in. Roper is charged with vehicular homicide and four counts of assault by auto, and the criminal complaint against Roper stated that he had been awake for more than 24 hours at the time of the trucking accident.
Morgan suffered multiple broken bones in the accident including broken ribs, a broken leg and a broken nose and was listed in critical condition after the accident. He has since been released from the hospital to continue his rehabilitation at home. McNair, a comedy writer, was fatally injured and three others were transported to the hospital with injuries of various severities.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the 6-car pileup caused by the driver of the Walmart tractor trailer. During its investigation, the NTSB will review the driver’s log and fuel receipts to determine the driver’s activities prior to the accident and investigate all available facts to determine whether the driver was in violation of the rules regarding hours of service. Under Federal law, drivers can work no more than 14 hours for any shift and only 11 of those hours can be spent driving. Read the preliminary report on the crash from the NTSB here.
According to the lawsuit filed in federal court in New Jersey against Walmart by Tracy Morgan and others, Roper commuted from his home in Georgia to the Walmart facility in Delaware to begin his shift driving the Peterbilt truck-tractor and semitrailer combination vehicle. The limo bus in which Morgan and others were riding had slowed on the New Jersey Turnpike due to construction work and closed lanes on the Turnpike. The driver of the Walmart commercial truck apparently did not slow down and struck the rear of the limo bus. The lawsuit seeks damages against Walmart since Roper was an employee of Walmart and was operating the truck in the regular course of his employment.
The suit seeks damages for injuries suffered by Morgan and two other passengers in the limo bus as well as the wife of one of the passengers who is claiming damages for loss of consortium (loss of her husband’s ability to perform all the duties of a husband, including maintaining the home and providing love, companionship, affection and society to his wife). The injured parties seek damages for severe bodily injuries, including multiple fractures. In addition, the suit seeks punitive damages against Walmart because of alleged reckless or intentional conduct including allegations that Walmart knew or should have known it was unreasonable for Roper to commute more than 700 miles from his Georgia home to work at the Walmart facility in Delaware. In addition to the suit filed by Morgan, there will likely be other suits filed as a result of the collision, including a wrongful death suit by the family of James McNair who died as a result of his injuries.
The civil suits filed to recover damages for the injuries suffered by the passengers in the limo bus are separate from the criminal action filed against Roper by prosecutors in New Jersey. Regardless of whether Roper is found guilty of criminal conduct, he and his employer can still be held liable in the civil lawsuits for injuries suffered by the limo bus passengers as well as punitive damages.
If you or someone you know has been injured in a collision caused by a tractor trailer, semi-trailer or large commercial vehicle, contact our personal injury attorneys with experience in handling tractor trailer accidents. Contact us at 877-634-1519 to talk with our attorneys that have the experience necessary to help you enforce your rights and obtain the settlement or award you deserve. You can also contact our attorneys using our online form.