We wrote last month about the highway crash involving Tracy Morgan, in which the former “Saturday Night Live” star was seriously injured. As we noted previously, another comedian was killed in the crash. The lawsuit, filed by Morgan and others in U.S. District Court in New Jersey, claims Wal-Mart was negligent when the driver of its trucks crashed into the limousine van occupied by Morgan and the others on June 7. The complaint filed alleges that Wal-Mart should have known the driver had been awake for more than 24 hours, and that his commute of 700 miles from his home in Georgia to work in Delaware was “unreasonable.” It also alleges the driver fell asleep at the wheel. Morgan seeks punitive and compensatory damages in the lawsuit. It was alleged in the complaint:
As a result of Wal-Mart’s gross, reckless, willful, wanton, and intentional conduct, it should be appropriately punished with the imposition of punitive damages.
The wreck on the New Jersey Turnpike killed 62-year-old comedian James McNair, who went by the name Jimmy Mack. Comedian Ardley Fuqua and Jeffrey Millea, other passengers in the limo, were also injured and are named as Plaintiffs in the lawsuit. Morgan, the former “30 Rock” star, suffered a broken leg and broken ribs in the crash and is currently in a rehabilitation center. Fuqua is recovering from crash-related injuries. The truck driver, Kevin Roper, who is from Jonesboro, Ga., has pleaded not guilty to death by auto and assault by auto charges. A criminal complaint also accuses him of not sleeping for more than 24 hours before the crash, a violation of New Jersey law.
A report by federal transportation safety investigators said Roper was driving 65 mph in the 60 seconds before he slammed into the limo van. The speed limit on that stretch of the turnpike is 55 mph and was lowered to 45 mph that night because of construction. The driver, Roper, had been on the job about 13 1/2 hours at the time of the crash, the report concluded. Federal rules permit truck drivers to work up to 14 hours a day, with a maximum of 11 hours behind the wheel. Morgan, a New York City native, was returning from a standup comedy performance at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino in Delaware when the crash occurred.
As I wrote last month, this case will get lots of media attention because of the star-status of the person involved. That attention will help get the message out relating to truck drivers who are allowed to drive when fatigued.
Source: Insurance Journal
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