Walmart recently agreed to an out of court settlement following an accident that claimed the life of James McNair and resulted in serious injuries to well-known comedian, Tracy Morgan. The settlement is the first in what is expected to be multiple settlements related to the fatal truck accident that occurred when a driver collided with Tracy Morgan’s limousine and resulted in injuries to numerous people. The driver of the truck is currently facing criminal charges in addition to his civil liability for the accident which caused catastrophic harm to each of the victims involved and their families.
Walmart Denies Liability Despite Settlement
James McNair’s family members have not released details about the settlement agreed to by Walmart but have stated that they feel Walmart did right by their family following the incident and that the settlement offer was satisfactory. Walmart has refused to admit that it was liable for the actions of its driver, however, and is the defendant in numerous lawsuits filed by the other victims in the incident. Kevin Roper, an employee of Walmart had been driving without sleep for more than twenty-four hours prior to the incident, which is a direct violation of federal laws regulating the amount of work drivers are permitted to log before resting. Truck drivers are often encouraged by their employers to work for longer periods without rest in order to hit quotas and meet deadlines and the question of whether Walmart encouraged or knew about Roper’s violations remains a key factor in the lawsuits being brought against the company.
Walmart can be considered liable for the actions of its employee under the premise of vicarious liability, which states that a corporation may be considered responsible for the actions of its employees in the event those actions result in harm to others. Even if it is determined that Walmart did not commit any acts of negligence, the company may still be considered responsible for Roper’s actions and required to provide compensation to all of those injured in the accident.
Severe Injuries Sustained by Passengers
Tracy Morgan and James McNair were accompanied by two other passengers who were also injured in the accident. Morgan’s injuries include traumatic brain injuries which he has not yet recovered from and his prognosis suggests that he may never regain the mental capacity and function that he had prior to the accident. Ardley Fuqua and Jeffrey Millea also suffered severe injuries during the accident and have yet to receive settlement offers from Walmart. Their lawsuits are currently proceeding in federal court but it is possible that Walmart may attempt to resolve the cases out of court in order to cut its losses and avoid negative publicity. Walmart had negotiated its settlement with the McNair family before the family was able to formally file a lawsuit.
Criminal Charges Filed Against Driver
It was determined upon further investigation that Kevin Roper had been travelling at about 65 miles per hour at the time of the accident. The incident occurred in a construction zone where the speed limit is reduced to 45 miles per hour by law. Roper is facing charges for assault by auto as well as death by auto and has pleaded not guilty to both charges. It has been proven that fatigued drivers have reductions in reaction time and impaired judgment that mimic the same effects of driving while impaired so the length of time Roper was driving without rest is an important factor in both his criminal and civil trials. If found guilty; he may face a jail sentence in addition to the revocation of his commercial truck license.