Wal-Mart Settles Wrongful Death Truck Wreck Claim for $10 Million

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Deadly Crash Killed Comedian and Friend of Tracy Morgan

Wal-Mart settled a wrongful death claim arising out of the June crash that killed James McNair and severely injured his friend comedian Tracy Morgan. The retail giant will pay Mr. McNair’s children 26 year-old Jamel McNair and 19 year-old Denita McNair in annuities installments starting at $3,000 per month and increasing over time for the rest or their lives. 

Although the settlement terms are confidential, the $10 million settlement amount was included in a motion for attorney’s fees filed by the McNair family’s lawyer in Westchester County Surrogate’s Court in New York where the 62 year-old father lived.

Wal-Mart Driver Tired and Speeding at Time of Fatal Tractor-Trailer Wreck

The tragic tractor-trailer accident occurred in the early morning of June 7. Tracy Morgan, James McNair and their colleagues were in a limo driving back home from a performance they had given in Delaware just hours earlier. 

Kevin Roper had reported to work at Wal-Mart in Delaware from his home in Georgia — a commute of 700 miles — and climbed behind the wheel of a tractor-trailer after 24 hours of being awake. Sleep-deprived and speeding, Mr. Roper didn’t see a sign warning drivers about construction-related lane closures a mile ahead and didn’t notice a second sign a half-mile later that lowered the speed limit from 55 to 65 mph. 

The limo carrying the performers slowed down as it approached congestion caused by the construction. Mr. Roper’s 18-wheeler slammed into the back of the limo, knocking the vehicle onto its side. Mr. Morgan suffered serious brain damage, from which he has not made a full recovery. In fact, sadly, he has said he may never be able to perform again, a loss to us all of a truly talented comedian who once starred on Saturday Night Live and 30-Rock. Mr. McNair, who Mr. Morgan calls his mentor and friend, died in the accident.

Wal-Mart Knew About Driver’s Sleep Deprivation 

Mr. Roper’s supervisors knew that the driver lived in Georgia, yet required him to report to work in Delaware, rather than to a location closer to his home. This is a matter of public policy. With such a long commute, Wal-Mart was aware that its driver would not meet the rest requirements imposed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) hours of service regulations. Putting its sleep-deprived driver on the road was not only careless, but a violation of federal laws. Wal-Mart again disregarded hours of service requirements in February when its driver caused another deadly tractor-trailer crash in North Florida. 

Wal-Mart needs to start putting the lives of the public ahead of profits and stop putting dangerously overworked, sleep-deprived drivers on the road.

Berenson Law Firm concentrates our practice solely on auto and tractor-trailer accident recovery. If you have been injured in an 18-wheeler crash, contact our Dallas/ Fort Worth attorney today to schedule your free evaluation. Call 817.885.8000.

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