Retail giant Wal-Mart claims actor and comedian Tracy Morgan and the other passengers involved in the Limo accident with one of its semi trucks were partially to blame because they were not wearing seatbelts.
Wal-Mart lawyers recently filed a 28-page response with the U.S. District Court of New Jersey (Trenton) to Morgan’s auto negligence lawsuit (3:14:cv-04388) filed against the retailer July 10.
The Wal-Mart response states, “Plaintiffs’ injuries, if any, were caused in whole or in part by plaintiffs’ failure to properly wear an appropriate available seat belt device. All or a portion of the injuries could have been diminished or minimized by the exercise of reasonable conduct in using the available seat belts.”
Kevin Roper, the 35-year-old Wal-Mart driver, has plead not guilty to a vehicular homicide charge as the fatality accident claimed the life of James McNair. Roper is free on bond and on administrative leave.
Morgan’s lawyers spelled-out in their complaint that Roper hired by Wal-Mart lived in Jonesboro, Ga., and his job was based out of Smyrna, a commute of more than 700 miles, which he made just before beginning his shift at 11:22 a.m. on June 6.
The lawsuit claims, a fatigued Roper fell asleep at the wheel, and failed to slow down for traffic ahead. The National Transportation Safety Board cited in its preliminary report that Roper was traveling 20 miles over the speed limit prior to slamming into Morgan’s limo van while traveling at 65 miles an hour.
Federal law allows drivers to log 14 hours behind the wheel, Roper was within those limits at 13:5 hours, the NTSB report confirmed.
Wal-Mart released a statement that it continues to work with Morgan and the other plaintiffs to resolve this matter and provided no other comments following Monday’s filed response with the court.
The retailer listed eight other so-called affirmative defenses in its legal response to the court intending to mitigate damages. Wal-Mart’s response also demands the plaintiffs to specify the amount of damages they alleged in their complaint. Both parties have requested a jury trial.