Speeding Driver Had Been Awake for More Than 24 Hours
A year ago this week, comedian Tracy Morgan and his colleagues were on their way home after a performance when a speeding Wal-Mart truck plowed into their limo. 62 year-old James McNair, known as Jimmy Mack, was killed and 45 year-old Tracy Morgan was severely injured.
The popular star of SNL and Thirty Rock suffered serious traumatic brain injury, broken ribs and a broken leg. After a full year of extensive medical treatments and therapy, Tracy still has not been able to return to the stage. He made his first public appearance Monday and said he has bad days and good days. Although he continues to suffer from headaches and memory loss, Tracy told the Today Show host that his most difficult loss is the death of his close friend Jimmy Mack.
The fatal Wal-Mart accident might have been even worse. Tracy’s family typically travels with him to his comedy shows. But, fortunately, they remained home on this occasion. Otherwise, his children and fiancée may have been in the vehicle when the tractor-trailer plowed into them.
Confidential Settlement Agreement
Tracy’s settlement with the world’s largest retailer is confidential. Although the details are not public, Tracy expressed gratitude toward Wal-Mart, and the CEO of the company plans to make a personal apology, so these details give a small measure of insight into terms of the deal. Earlier this year, Wal-Mart settled with Jimmy Mack’s family for $10 million.
Driver Faces Criminal Charges, But What About Wal-Mart?
The tractor-trailer driver Kevin Roper (pictured above) was charged with vehicular homicide and assault and several other related offenses in New Jersey, where the accident occurred. The criminal complaint alleges that Roper had been awake for more than 24 hours at the time of the crash. He was also speeding at 65 mph through a construction zone marked 45 mph.
The sleep-deprived driver violated federal regulations that restrict drive time to 11 hours during a 14-hour workday. Before beginning his shift, the 35 year-old trucker drove from his home in Jonesboro, Georgia to report to work in Delaware. In an implausible statement, Wal-Mart claimed that the driver was in compliance with federal safety laws. Just driving the approximately 800 miles to work would have taken more than 12 hours.
With Wal-Mart stores dotting every corner of the country, one wonders why the company would not schedule its drivers to routes within a commutable distance from home. Wal-Mart not only showed an extreme lack of concern for its employee, but for the public at large.
The driver was of course negligent, but was following the orders of his employer, possibly under pressure to keep his job. Yet, Wal-Mart will likely avoid criminal liability for this deadly 18-wheeler accident. Wal-Mart should be held criminally responsible for its violations of federal laws and should be standing trial along with its driver. Otherwise, Wal-Mart will continue to count settlement awards as merely the cost of doing business.
Berenson Law Firm Advocates for Rights of Tractor-Trailer Crash Victims
Bill Berenson represents people injured in and families of thoseinjured or killed in collisions caused by 18 wheelers. Call our Dallas-Fort Worth law office at 888.801.8585 to discuss your case for free. We stand up to big corporations to obtain justice and win you the compensation you need to recover.