Tracy Morgan is suing Walmart over a New Jersey Turnpike accident that left one person dead and several people hospitalized, including the 30 Rock actor.
Walmart driver Kevin Roper allegedly plowed into a limousine van carrying Morgan on June 7. Morgan and others injured in the accident allege negligence on Walmart’s part in a lawsuit filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in New Jersey.
“Walmart was careless and negligent in the ownership and operation of its motor vehicle, which caused Mr. Morgan to suffer severe personal injuries,” the complaint reads. “As a direct and proximate result of said collision, Mr. Morgan was caused to sustain severe painful bodily injuries, including but not limited to multiple fractures which required multiple surgeries, extensive medical treatment and will require significant physical rehabilitation.”
Plaintiffs include Morgan’s assistant, Jeffrey Millea, his wife Krista Millea and comedian Ardie Fuqua. The plaintiffs are suing for negligence. In addition, Krista Millea is suing for loss of consortium.
They are seeking compensatory and statutory damages, punitive damages, legal fees, as well as pre- and post judgment interest, among other things at a trial by jury.
Walmart expressed its sorrow over the accident in a statement, particularly over the death of comedian James McNair, who was a passenger in Morgan’s vehicle,
“This has been a terrible tragedy. We wish Mr. Morgan, Mr. Fuqua Jr., and Mr. Millea full recoveries,” the statement reads. “Our thoughts continue to go out to them, their families and friends, as well as to the families and friends of everyone involved, including Mr. McNair, who lost his life. We are deeply sorry that one of our trucks was involved. As we’ve said, we’re cooperating fully in the ongoing investigation. We know it will take some time to resolve all of the remaining issues as a result of the accident, but we’re committed to doing the right thing for all involved.”
The suit alleges that Roper was fatigued when the accident occurred and that “Walmart knew or should have known” that he had been “awake for more than 24 consecutive hours” ahead of the crash. According to the suit, Roper had commuted 700 miles from his home in Jonesboro, Ga., to a Walmart facility in Smyrna, Del., before beginning his shift.
“Additionally, there were many Walmart distribution facilities closer to Mr. Roper’s home — including nine in Georgia alone — which would have significantly reduced Mr. Roper’s commute to work,” the suit reads.
It says Walmart either “knew or should have known” that it was “unreasonable” for Roper to drive 700 miles before his shift. The suit also alleges Roper fell asleep at the wheel immediately before the crash as a result of his fatigue. It goes on to say Walmart turns a blind eye to workers who break regulations regarding shift limits set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
“Walmart not only failed to condemn, but condoned this practice of its drivers routinely violating the F.M.S.C.A. Regulations,” the suit reads.
Roper was going 65 mph in a 45-mph zone just before the accident, according to a National Transportation Safety Board report. Roper has plead not guilty to death by auto and assault by auto charges.
Morgan left the hospital on June 20 and was moved to a rehabilitation facility. On Saturday, Morgan’s publicist Lewis Kay said that the actor “has been released from the rehabilitation center and will continue his recovery efforts at home with an aggressive outpatient program. He asked me to pass along his sincerest gratitude to everyone who has helped him get to this point.”