WalMart Sued for HOS Negligence

by Jana Ritter - Published: 8/12/2014

Tracy Morgan’s attorney Benedict appeared on Monday’s “Today” show saying his famous client still hasn't recovered from the injuries he sustained in June, when a truck driver crashed into the limousine carrying him and his entourage home from a stand up show. Benedict appeared on “Today” to provide an update on Morgan’s condition and discuss their current lawsuit against Wal-Mart.

Wal-Mart Lawsuit

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On June 7th, Morgan and his group were returning from a stand-up show in Dover, Delaware early June 7 when truck driver Kevin Roper, 35, crashed into their vehicle with his Wal-Mart tractor trailer, while speeding 20 mph over the limit on the New Jersey Turnpike. While Morgan suffered a broken leg and ribs, the most tragic result of the crash was that it took the life of Morgan’s close-friend and comedian James McNair – a.k.a Jimmy Mack. Assistant Jeffrey Millea and comedian Ardley Fugua were also injured and Fuqua still remains hospitalized two months later.

On July 10, Morgan's lawyer sued Wal-Mart for negligence, claiming that the company should have known that its driver, Kevin Roper, had been awake for more than 24 hours and that a 700-mile commute from his home in Georgia to work in Delaware was "unreasonable". "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," court papers said. The lawsuit intends to prove that it is the company culture at Wal-Mart that employees are pushed to work illegal hours.

While Roper has been spared the liability and legal suit by Morgan’s camp, the truck driver has been facing criminal charges of death by auto and assault by auto. Prosecutors said Roper had not slept for more than 24 hours before the crash on the New Jersey Turnpike, when he swerved to avoid traffic that had slowed down, then plowed into Morgan's limo bus. A report by the National Transportation Safety Board, said Roper had been driving at 65mph in a 45mph construction zone shortly before the crash. He had been on the clock for 13-and-a-half 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.

While Roper has since pleaded not guilty to his charges, Wal-Mart issued a statement last month that it was "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 retailer said.

Martin H. Pashain
Martin H. Pashain
I have been a over the road trucker for 50 years, I tried to apply to Walmart distribution centers to become a Walmart company driver & was refused because I do not put on 150,000 plus miles per year, ever. I am a Teamster hauling for a LNG company in Ma, & a owner-operator since 97, & I have driven coast to coast several times per year, & still can not get hired by Walmart trucking division. What ever happened to this younger Walmart driver, just after he had his 10 hours off & getting paid to sleep, as part of the benefits that Walmart gives their company drivers, I do not understand, why this driver plowed into Tracy Morgan' s so called limo. I say so called limo, because the M/B van was a conversion into a limo. Maybe to save a few bucks? I have driven on NJ Pike many times. The NJ Pike is a very fast moving highway most of the time, I still can not figure out how the Walmart driver could plow into stopped traffic getting off onto a exit? Killing Tracy Morgan's best friend & seriously hurting Tracy Morgan where he lost his leg? Plus causing a lot of damage to the Walmart tractor-trailer? I saw the pictures online a hour or so after the accident, & bI saw the Walmart driver's picture also online after he turned himself into the NJ PD. He was let out with a $50,000 cash bail, so where is this 35 year old trucker today. Does he still have his CDL, is he still working as a company driver for Walmart? I would like to read & see the results of this one & how Walmart will pay out of court to settle this case?