TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Tracy Morgan has been released from a rehabilitation center and is suing Walmart over last month’s highway crash that seriously injured him and killed a fellow comedian.
The lawsuit, filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in New Jersey, claims Walmart was negligent when a driver of one of its tractor-trailers rammed into Morgan’s limousine van. The complaint claims the retail giant should have known the driver had been awake for over 24 hours, and that his commute of 700 miles from his home in Georgia to work in Delaware was “unreasonable.” It also alleges the driver fell asleep at the wheel.
Tracy Morgan Released From Rehabilitation Center, Sues Walmart Over Deadly Crash
“As a result of WalMart’s gross, reckless, willful, wanton, and intentional conduct, it should be appropriately punished with the imposition of punitive damages,” according to the complaint.
In a statement on Saturday a spokesman said that Morgan was recovering at home and confirmed that the actor and comedian, along with other accident victims, had filed a law suit.
“In regards to the reports of a lawsuit, I can confirm that Tracy, along with the other victims of this horrific accident, have filed suit,” Lewis Kay said.
The June 7 wreck on the New Jersey Turnpike killed 62-year-old comedian James McNair, who went by the name Jimmy Mack. Comedian Ardley Fuqua and Jeffrey and Krista Millea, who were injured as passengers in the limo, are also named as plaintiffs.
Morgan, the former “Saturday Night Live” and “30 Rock” star, suffered a broken leg and broken ribs in the crash.
A spokesman for Morgan said he will undergo an aggressive outpatient rehabilitation program, WCBS 880’s Jim Smith reported.
Truck driver Kevin Roper, 35, of Jonesboro, Ga., has pleaded not guilty to death by auto and assault by auto charges. A criminal complaint also accuses him of not sleeping for more than 24 hours before the crash, a violation of New Jersey law.
In a statement issued Saturday, Walmart reiterated that it was “cooperating fully” in the ongoing investigation.
“We know it will take some time to resolve all of the remaining issues as a result of the accident, but we’re committed to doing the right thing for all involved,” Walmart said.
A report by federal transportation safety investigators said Roper was driving 65 mph in the 60 seconds before he slammed into the limo van. The speed limit on that stretch of the turnpike is 55 mph and was lowered to 45 mph that night because of construction.
Roper had been on the job about 13 1/2 hours at the time of the crash, the report concluded. Federal rules permit truck drivers to work up to 14 hours a day, with a maximum of 11 hours behind the wheel.
Morgan, a New York City native, was returning from a standup performance at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino in Delaware when the crash occurred.
Morgan’s lawsuit seeks a jury trial and punitive and compensatory damages.
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