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Family of Comedian Killed in Tracy Morgan Crash Settles with Walmart

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It was last June that 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.

In July 2014, Morgan filed a personal injury lawsuit against Walmart, since the tractor-trailer driver was working for the company at the time of the crash. McNair’s family also filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Walmart, and according to USA Today, they have recently reached a settlement with the company.

Family Settles with Walmart Over Deadly Crash

McNair, who was only 62 years old at the time of his death, left behind two children, Danita (19) and Jamel (26). The family claimed the tractor-trailer slammed into the limo van, and that the driver, Kevin Roper, was driving while overly fatigued.

Roper faces criminal charges for his part in the crash, including death by auto and assault by auto. He has 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, going 65 miles per hour in a 45 mile per hour construction zone. Morgan’s limo bus was at a dead stop when it was hit from behind. Roper’s case is still pending.

Lawsuits have named Walmart as a defendant because Roper had been on the road for more than 24 hours prior to the crash. Walmart should have known, the plaintiffs claimed, 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.

Both parties in McNair’s case agreed to an out-of-court settlement, the details of which were not revealed. According to the family’s attorney, 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.

Walmart’s Apparent Response

Back 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 still in a wheelchair three months later. News 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.

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  1. Sam Hill says:
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    Walmart should have known what their driver was doing in his off time? Really? I’d like to see you do that with your employees. What? You don’t have any? Yes, I know. It shows. What kind of moron thinks companies should keep tabs on their employee’s in their off hours? The driver’s commute to work isn’t part of the DOT regulated hours of service. DOT hours of service were not violated as indicated above. If you don’t like that change federal law. What the driver did in his off time is his own responsibility.