Popular actor-comedian Tracy Morgan is currently embroiled in a controversial lawsuit stemming from his June 2014 traffic accident on the New Jersey Turnpike. Morgan was returning from a show he performed in Delaware when his limousine was rear-ended by a Walmart truck, driven by Kevin Roper of Jonesboro, Georgia.
Morgan’s friend James McNair was killed in the crash. Fellow passengers Ardley Fuqua and Jeffrey Millea were injured, and are both involved in the pending lawsuit. As a result of the Tracy Morgan truck accident, the comic spent several weeks in hospitalization and rehabilitation facilities for serious leg and rib injuries.
The Legal Dispute
The ongoing legal battle hinges on a difference of opinion between the parties on who is at fault for Morgan’s injuries and those of his passengers, including the fatality of Mr. McNair. Walmart asserts that because the passengers in Morgan’s limousine were not wearing seatbelts, their injuries are partially or fully their own fault. Walmart representatives are insistent that Morgan’s party acted with “unreasonable conduct” by neglecting to buckle up, therefore must assume some blame for resulting injuries.
Morgan’s legal team is appalled at the allegations leveled by Walmart. According to lawyer’s representing the interests of Morgan and party, Walmart had initially indicated that it would take full responsibility for all damages related to the Tracy Morgan truck accident.
The lawsuit filed by Morgan’s legal representation seeks compensation for damages as well as punitive consequences. The lawsuit states that the Walmart truck driver, Mr. Roper, had been awake for more than 24 hours prior to the Tracy Morgan truck accident (a violation of New Jersey trucking regulations), and was at work for at least 13 hours after a commute of 700 miles from Georgia to Delaware where he started his shift. The lawsuit also alleges that he fell asleep at the wheel, causing the Tracy Morgan accident.
According to reports by the federal transportation safety investigation team, Roper was likely traveling at 65 miles per hour within the minute prior to the Tracy Morgan truck accident. This speed would be over the posted 55 miles per hour for that stretch of highway, and the temporary 45 miles per hour posted at the time of the crash because of construction.
The Criminal Charges
Kevin Roper was also charged in New Jersey criminal court with death by auto and assault by auto, to which he pled not guilty. The criminal charges include the allegations that he had not slept for at least 24 hours prior to the Tracy Morgan truck accident. The case is still currently in progress.
New Jersey Contributory Negligence Laws
With the jury trial for the Morgan/Walmart case still pending, let’s take a look at the impact that New Jersey’s contributory negligence laws may have on a potential outcome. In New Jersey, the plaintiff (in this case Morgan) seeking compensation cannot be found more responsible for damages than the defendant (Walmart).
If a jury finds Morgan and his co-plaintiffs partly or significantly at fault, it could affect the amount of damages they can recover. Contributory negligence in New Jersey allows plaintiffs to recover payment in the percentage of damages that they are not found responsible for.
For example, if the jury determines that Morgan is 40 percent responsible for his own injuries due to not wearing a seatbelt, he will be restricted to receiving 60 percent of damages from Walmart. If he is found more than 50 percent responsible, he will be barred from receiving anything from Walmart.
Max Meyers Understands Car Accident Law
If you’re facing uncertain circumstances in your car accident case, Max Meyers Law can help you. We understand how frustrating complicated car accident claims can be and we are adept at responding to defenses, managing lawsuits and securing successful outcomes for victims. Call us today at 425-399-7000 to set up a consultation to discuss your case with an attorney.