Tracy Morgan has responded to yesterday’s charges from Walmart, who claim the comedian should’ve been wearing a seatbelt and that perhaps he wouldn’t have suffered such serious injuries had be been practicing proper passenger safety on June 7 when Walmart truck driver Kevin Roper slammed into his mini bus. “After I heard what Walmart said in court I felt I had to speak out,” Morgan says in a statement. “I can’t believe Walmart is blaming me for an accident that they caused. My friends and I were doing nothing wrong. I want to thank my fans for sticking with me during this difficult time. I love you all. I’m fighting hard every day to get back.”
We posed this question yesterday: Was Tracy Morgan partly at fault in the accident that nearly killed him? Wal-Mart claims the comedian is to blame for his injuries because he was not wearing a seat belt.
“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.”