It has been nearly a year since a traumatic six-car accident critically injured comedians Tracy Morgan, Harris Stanton, and Ardie Fuqua, and killed 62-year-old James McNair.
Earlier this year, Walmart reached a settlement with McNair's family for $10 million. This month, Morgan has also settled his case with Walmart
April last year, Morgan and friends were traveling back from a show in a Mercedes limousine bus. They were on the New Jersey Turnpike when a Walmart tractor trailer swerved into Morgan's limo causing a chain reaction accident involving six vehicles.
The driver of the truck, Kevin Roper, was apparently speeding 20 mph above the speed limit. Subsequent investigations found that Roper had fallen asleep while driving because he had been awake for 24 hours prior to the crash. Roper was arrested and charged with one count of death by auto and four counts of assault by auto.
At the time of the crash, Roper was employed by Walmart and driving Walmart's truck.
Under the theory of vicarious liability and respondeat superior, an employer can be liable for an employee's negligent actions. If the employee is negligently performing his duties and the accident occurred during the course of employment, the employer can be held liable.
The victims of the crash argue that Walmart pushed its drivers to work too many hours. They claim that Walmart knew or should have known that Roper would have been tired from driving for too long.
In its defense, Walmart pointed the blame at Morgan instead. They claim that he caused or contributed to his injuries because he did not wear a seatbelt. In some states, a plaintiff's damages award can be reduced by a proportionate amount if the court finds that the plaintiff was also partially negligent and responsible for some of the damages.
Regardless, the seatbelt question is now moot. Morgan has settled his negligence claim with Walmart for an undisclosed amount, and the store continues to neither deny nor accept responsibility for the accident.