The law firm of Morelli Alters Ratner has filed a lawsuit against Wal-Mart Stores Inc, alleging that the company’s negligence contributed to a serious truck accident that left actor-comedian Tracy Morgan and two others critically injured.
The lawsuit, filed on July 10, claims that Tracy Morgan and companions were rear-ended by a Wal-Mart truck operated by Kevin Roper. The accident occurred on the New Jersey Turnpike as the car occupants were returning from a stand-up comedy show in Delaware.
According to the civil complaint, Wal-Mart’s negligence substantially contributed to the accident and injuries suffered by Morgan and companions. They allege that Wal-Mart knew or should have known that Roper, who lived in Georgia and was based out of a Wal-Mart facility in Delaware, commuted an excessive distance of 750 miles before working nearly 14 hours driving a company truck.
Roper was also driving 65 mph in a 45 mph construction zone 60 seconds before the crash, and is currently facing criminal charges for death and assault by auto. In the lawsuit, the firm cites a number of instances that demonstrate Wal-Mart’s negligence as a substantial contributing factor to the accident. The suit claims that Wal-Mart knew or should have known that Roper’s hours did not comply with federal trucking regulations against driver fatigue, that he had been awake for more than 24 hours, and that it was unreasonable for him to travel more than 700 miles to work at a facility in Delaware when there were numerous other facilities much closer to where he lived, including nine in Georgia.
The lawsuit also alleges that state-of-the-art collision-avoidance systems in the truck were not working properly, and that Wal-Mart knew or should have known that this crucial safety feature was compromised.
Partner Benedict Morelli commented on the case, stating that “Wal-Mart’s creation of a culture that forces its truck drivers to drive long distances without sleep – in violation of safety regulations – has put many drivers and passengers on the road at risk of injury and death. Mr. Roper was forced to drive over 700 miles from his home in Georgia to Delaware to pick up his truck and then begin his shift, which ended in this tragic accident some 13 hours later. We intend to hold Wal-Mart fully responsible for all the harm they have caused to our clients and their families in this horrific accident.”