Reported by Nigel Boys
After a Georgia truck driver for Walmart crashed into a limousine bus carrying comedian Tracy Morgan and other comedians, on June 7 while traveling on the New Jersey Turnpike, Morgan has taken the retail giant to court.
Sixty-two-year-old Jimmy Mack, a friend of Morgan’s, was killed during the collision and the comedian himself suffered from a broken leg and ribs. Morgan is claiming punitive damages from Walmart along with comedian Ardley Fuqua, and Jeffrey and Krista Millea, who were also passengers in the limo.
However, the retail giant is claiming that Morgan’s injuries were his own fault for not obeying state law by wearing a seatbelt.
In court papers filed in their defense, Walmart claimed that “Upon information and belief, plaintiffs’ injuries, if any, were caused, in whole or in part, by plaintiffs’ failure to properly wear an appropriate available seatbelt restraint device.” The papers continued that Morgan failed to “exercise ordinary care in making use of available seatbelts … and acted unreasonably and in disregard of plaintiffs’ own best interests.”
Walmart also claim that they should be immune to any punitive damages and are demanding a trial for which they have already appointed Jeffrey L. O’Hara, the company’s top trial counsel, for their defense.
According to Brooke Buchanan, spokeswoman for the retail giant, Walmart is willing to work with Morgan and the other plaintiffs in this case to resolve the matter to their mutual agreement.
Previously, Walmart had announced that the accident was a tragedy and they were profoundly sorry that one of their trucks was involved. They added that they were working together with law enforcement officials to determine the cause of the accident, and if it was found to be their fault, they would take full responsibility.
Walmart’s June statement continued that they would do what was right by the family of Jimmy Mack and the survivors of the accident, but they couldn’t change what had happened.
In their recent filing, Walmart also demanded that the legal team of Morgan and his companions put in writing exactly what they were seeking in damages, which had been previously unspecified when the lawsuit was filed.
The driver of the Walmart truck, Kevin Roper, pleaded not guilty to criminal charges of death by auto, even though he had not slept for more than 24 hours before the crash.