TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — A federal judge has ruled against the Walmart driver involved in a crash that killed one person and severely injured actor-comedian Tracy Morgan and several others.
Driver Kevin Roper had filed a motion to intervene in Morgan’s lawsuit against Walmart stemming from the June 7, 2014, crash in which a Walmart truck slammed into a limo van carrying Morgan and the others home from a show in Delaware.
Roper faces criminal charges in New Jersey state court. He’s not a defendant in Morgan’s federal lawsuit, but wanted the suit delayed until his criminal case is resolved. Roper claimed his right to a fair trial could be affected.
In a ruling Tuesday, a judge ruled against Roper and allowed the lawsuit to proceed. U.S. District Judge Michael Shipp wrote that a delay would unfairly affect the parties in Morgan’s suit and that Roper didn’t cite relevant case law to back up his claims.
Morgan’s friend James “Jimmy Mack” McNair, 62, of Peekskill, died in the New Jersey Turnpike crash.
Morgan, a former “Saturday Night Live” and “30 Rock” star, suffered a traumatic brain injury in the accident, according to his lawyer. Attorney Benedict Morelli said it is uncertain if he will be “the Tracy Morgan he once was.”
Two other passengers, Ardie Fuqua Jr. and Jeffrey Millea, were critically injured. Comedian Harris Stanton suffered a broken wrist.
According to a preliminary probe by the National Transportation Safety Board, Roper was going 65 miles per hour in the 60 seconds before he slammed into the van.
The speed limit on that stretch of the Turnpike is 55 miles per hour and was lowered to 45 miles per hour that night because of construction.
Roper, 35, faces one count of second-degree vehicular homicide and four counts of fourth-degree assault by auto.
Last month, Walmart and McNair’s family reached an out-of-court settlement.
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