Safety & Compliance

Tracy Morgan, Others Sue Walmart Over Truck Crash

July 14, 2014

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Comedian Tracy Morgan has filed a lawsuit against Walmart following a crash last month on the New Jersey Turnpike in which he was severely injured, while James McNair, a comedian known as Jimmy Mack was killed and two others were hurt.

The suit, filed U.S. District Court in New Jersey, seeks both compensatory and punitive damages, says Walmart was negligent in the ownership and operation of its truck, which was a “substantial contributing factor” in the crash on June 7, according to the New York Times. "The defendants “negligence was a substantial contributing factor in causing plaintiffs' injuries," the complaint states.

Two others hurt in the crash, when the tractor-trailer slammed into Morgan’s chauffeured limo van, are also listed as plaintiffs in the suit. Morgan has since been released from a rehabilitation facility following a lengthy hospital stay for broken ribs, a broken nose and a broken leg and is expected to continue his recovery at home.

In a statement released by Walmart it said the crash was a “terrible tragedy” and it hoped the three men would have a full recovery. “We are deeply sorry that one of our trucks was involved,” the statement said. “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.”

Prosecutors have charged the truck driver, Kevin Roper of Georgia, with one count of death by auto and four counts of assault by auto in the wreck. He entered a not guilty plea earlier. They claim he had not slept in more than 24 hours, a violation of New Jersey law, but have not said how they made such a determination. Roper has pleaded not guilty.

A National Transportation Safety Board report 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. It also determined he was in compliance with federal hours of service regulations.

The suit claims had been working for more than 25 hours straight following a 700-mile commute, in violation of federal regulations, according to BusinessInsurance.comIt charges also that the retailer should have known it was unreasonable for the driver to commute more than 700 miles from his home in Jonesboro, Ga., before starting his shift at a Wal-Mart facility in Smyrna, Del., “especially immediately before he was to commence a long shift operating a truck that weighed approximately 30-40 tons.”

The crash happened just days after a U.S. Senate committee approved legislation suspending the current 34-hour restart provision to federal hours of service rules for truck drivers, however the crash has likely doomed prospects for the proposal to advance any further, at least in the near-term.

Comments

  1. 1. Gregory Foreman [ July 14, 2014 @ 03:48PM ]

    I would like to preface this commentary by stating the following: I am not employed or in anyway associated with Wal-Mart's, and I do not have any relatives or friends that work for Wal-Mart's. I don't even shop at Wal-Mart's, I'm handicapped and refuse to endure the hassle associated with navigating their huge stores. However, the subject of this article demands a reply so here's my “2 ½ cents”. The assertion that Roper “worked for more than 25 hours straight following a 700-mile commute, in violation of federal regulations” is ludicrous, misleading, inflammatory and a misrepresentation of the facts. To the best of my knowledge, the FMCSA does not have any regulations governing commuting to work. The commute was not in a Wal-Mart truck but in his personal vehicle. I'm sure Wal-Mart did not pay Roper to drive from Georgia to Delaware, ergo, in as much as he was not paid, then he was not working. I am willing to accept the commute-assuming Roper failed to rest prior to or during his shift-contributed to the accident, but to lay blame at Wal-Mart's feet for the off duty actions of a driver is “show boating” in the highest degree. Furthermore, I'm not will to swallow the bogus claim that he had been working for 25 hours straight. The assertion of what Wal-Mart “should have known” concerning the drivers off hours activity is legalistic posturing-plain and simple. Wal-Mart, for that fact no trucking operation, can not govern or supervise an employee in their time off and therefore can not and should not be held accountable for the drivers lack of sleep or rest. It is the drivers responsibility to get the rest necessary to perform the rigors of the job. If the driver fails to do as much, then the driver—not the company—bears liability for what occurs. I'm sure there are extenuating factors concerning this accident that have not and will not come to light until the case is tried in both the civil and criminal courts. Until such time, any news releases s

  2. 2. A C [ July 15, 2014 @ 04:42AM ]

    The loss of life and severe injuries caused by this terribly unfortunate accident are tragic. But to use it as an excuse to put off correcting the 34 hour restart mess is typical bullshit.
    The crash happened just days after a U.S. Senate committee approved legislation suspending the current 34-hour restart provision to federal hours of service rules for truck drivers, however the crash has likely doomed prospects for the proposal to advance any further, at least in the near-term.

  3. 3. GreatBigDog [ July 15, 2014 @ 05:13AM ]

    Wal MArt cannot be held responsible for the actions of a driver prior to his / her climbing into the truck. Once in the truck, the driver must exercise due dilligence and care, respect for the laws ans speed limits and so on. This driver was speeding in a construction zone, he was driving under the influence of lack of proper rest. Wal Mart has no control over his actions. They only control the safety of the truck, it's reliability, registration with pertinent authorities, proper maintenance and so on. The driver is in control of the truck and must also follow specific rules and regulations as set forth in federal guidelines and also in Wal MArt's own driver guidelines. This driver failed everyone, himself, those he injured, society and Wal Mart. This cannot be laid at the feet of Wal Mart, only the driver should be made to answer for his actions. Wal MArt insurance can handle the injury claims but any lawsuits unraveling out of this should be the sole responsiblilty of the driver, period. Citing the claims as in the article above is pure posturing and grand standing on the part of the plaintiffs lawyers who, in my opinion are a bunch of ambulance chasers that see huge dollar signs because this involves Wal MArt. I wonder how many of the lawyers will hang around when a judge rules Wal Mart cannot be held responsible!! Ha! They'll run away from this case like lawyers chasing another ambulance!

  4. 4. A C [ July 15, 2014 @ 05:27AM ]

    Obviously the loss of life and injuries sustained in this accident are tragic. But the idea of the sick left using it as an excuse to not fix the 34 hr rule is a predictable joke.
    (The crash happened just days after a U.S. Senate committee approved legislation suspending the current 34-hour restart provision to federal hours of service rules for truck drivers, however the crash has likely doomed prospects for the proposal to advance any further, at least in the near-term.)....... Really???????
    Although not the least bit funny. It doesn't matter what is proven to make sense, you idiots will continue striving to destroy the industry. I've never seen anything like it! You people really do hate our free country and that scares the hell out of me.

  5. 5. dbeck [ July 20, 2014 @ 03:21PM ]

    Let me start by saying I have been in the Transportation Industry orver 40 yrs from Driver to Region Manager for one of the biggest transportation company in the world. Yes, the Driver is 100% in the wrong, but why would a company hire someone that lives in GA, but is hired in DE, are they that in need of Drivers? or is it lack of Management & Management training on the part of WM for putting someone in this possition-I think so., some resonability should fall on the people that hired this Driver..

  6. 6. Lt Mitch [ July 24, 2014 @ 05:28AM ]

    I too have been in this business (30 years) and agree with dbeck.

    Even though the driver was compliant with the hours of service he was not compliant with 392.3 which addresses "Ill and fatigued" drivers.

    Since Wal Mart was the employer of the driver and owner of the vehicle they will be held accountable for this accident. Not only that but who has the deep pockets here, Walmart.

    I can see it now, plaintiff's attorney files suit that alleges neglagent hiring, neglagent intrustment, etc, etc,..

    A never ending cycle.

 

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