Wrongful Death Claim Finally Settled in Fatal Wal-Mart Accident

by Jana Ritter - Published: 1/25/2015

The family of a comedian James McNair has finally settled a wrongful death claim with Wal-Mart after the New Jersey Turnpike crash that killed him and seriously injured fellow comedian Tracy Morgan on June 7th, 2014. The out-of-court settlement between Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and the McNair estate is only the first resolution of many suits stemming from the incident where a Wal-Mart truck slammed into a limo van driving Morgan and his party home from a show in Delaware that night.

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The accident made headlines because it involved high profile comedian Tracy Morgan, who starred on "Saturday Night Live" and "30 Rock", and suffered a traumatic brain injury as a result of the tragic incident. The Wal-Mart truck driver, Kevin Roper, has been charged with death by auto and four counts of assault by auto because according to the criminal complaint, Roper was operating the truck without having slept for more than 24 hours. A preliminary investigation conducted by the National Transportation Safety Board also estimated that Roper was driving 65 mph in the 60 seconds before he slammed into the limo van. Even worse is that the speed limit on that stretch of the turnpike that night had been lowered from 55 mph to 45 mph because of construction.

While the terms of the settlement remain confidential, Daryl Zaslow, the McNair family attorney said that they were pleased with the outcome. “Wal-Mart caused extensive damage to the family but accepted responsibility and more than stepped up to the plate and took care of this family. Ultimately they did the right thing by the McNairs," Zaslow said.

Wal-Mart spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan said that the company was also working toward settling with the others injured in the accident. "We know there is nothing we can do to change what happened to Mr. McNair. "We're committed to doing what's right,” Buchanan said.

Benedict Morelli, the attorney representing Tracy Morgan made a statement last month saying that Morgan hadn't fully recovered from his brain injury and that it was uncertain if he would be "the Tracy Morgan he once was."

The other passengers involved in the crash; Ardley Fuqua of Jersey City and Jeffrey Millea, of Connecticut, also suffered serious injuries. The additional lawsuits filed against Wal-Mart by Morgan, Fuqua and Millea are still proceeding in federal court.

Ralph Mendler
Ralph Mendler