Actor-comedian Tracy Morgan has filed a lawsuit against Walmart seeking a jury trial and damages for injuries stemming from a crash on the New Jersey Turnpike last month that left him critically injured.
Mr. Morgan was riding back to New York in a limousine van after performing in Delaware when a tractor trailer owned and operated by the retail giant slammed his vehicle from behind. Mr. Morgan was one of three passengers critically injured in the June 7 crash in Cranbury Township, N.J. His friend and mentor James McNair, who performed under the name “Jimmy Mack,” died at the scene.
‘‘As a result of Wal-Mart’s gross, reckless, willful, wanton, and intentional conduct, it should be appropriately punished with the imposition of punitive damages,’’ the complaint states. In addition to punitive damages, Mr. Morgan also seeks an unspecified amount of compensatory damages for his crash injuries, which included a broken leg and several broken ribs. Mr. Morgan continues his recovery in a rehabilitation facility.
The complaint says that the driver of the Walmart truck, Kevin Roper, 35, of Jonesboro, Ga., was driving 20 mph over the posted speed limit of 45 mph just before the crash. The lawsuit alleges that Mr. Roper failed to notice vehicles on the turnpike had slowed for construction because he had fallen asleep at the wheel.
Mr. Morgan’s lawsuit also notes that Mr. Roper commuted 700 miles from his Georgia home to his job in Delaware, and that Walmart should have been aware of this “unreasonable” commute. A criminal complaint filed by N.J. State Police says that Mr. Roper had not slept in more than 24 hours before the crash, a violation of state law and federal safety regulations.
Mr. Morgan filed the lawsuit June 10 in a N.J. federal court.
Mr. Roper has pleaded not guilty to charges of vehicular homicide and assault by auto and is free on a $50,000 bond.