“By failing to exercise ordinary care in making use of available seat belts, upon information and belief, plaintiffs acted unreasonably and in disregard of plaintiffs’ own best interests,” Wal-Mart’s statement reads.
The statement comes as part of Wal-Mart’s defense for a lawsuit filed by Tracy Morgan and several others who were injured when a company truck crashed into his limo bus on the New Jersey Turnpike. Morgan broke a leg, his nose, and several ribs in the June 7 crash, which also killed his friend James “Jimmy Mack” McNair. The former 30 Rock star is still recovering at his home after being released from a rehab center in July.
“He’s really having a tough time [recovering],” Tracy Morgan’s lawyer, Benedict P. Morelli, said in August. “He’s making incremental progress. But they’ll have to wait another month before they assess him cognitively.”
Wal-Mart truck driver Kevin Roper was charged with vehicular homicide and assault by auto in the Tracy Morgan crash, and he has since pleaded not guilty. In its statement, Wal-Mart refused to comment on Roper’s actions the night of the accident, citing the ongoing investigation.
The initial National Transportation Safety Board report claimed Roper was speeding at the time of the accident and had been working more than 13 straight hours, just under the legal limit. Morgan’s lawsuit claims Wal-Mart “knew or should have known” that Roper was “awake for more than 24 consecutive hours” the night of the crash.
“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 Tracy Morgan lawsuit reads. “Walmart was careless and negligent in the ownership and operation of its motor vehicle, which caused Mr. Morgan to suffer severe personal injuries.”