May 27, 2015 6:50 PM
Tracy Morgan settles suit with Wal-Mart over fatal crash
The Associated Press
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) Actor-comedian Tracy Morgan has settled his lawsuit against Wal-Mart over a highway crash that killed one man and left Morgan and two friends seriously injured.
A filing in federal court in Newark on Wednesday referred to a confidential settlement reached by the two sides.
Morgan's lawyer, Benedict Morelli, said he and Walmart worked diligently to reach the settlement for the plaintiffs and their families.
"Walmart took full responsibility for the accident, which we greatly appreciate," he said in a statement.
In the same statement, Morgan said Wal-Mart "did right by me and my family, and for my associates and their families. I am grateful that the case was resolved amicably."
Bentonville, Arkansas-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc. called it an "amicable settlement." Details weren't disclosed.
A Wal-Mart truck slammed into the back of a limo van carrying Morgan and the others back from a show in Delaware last June. Comedian James "Jimmy Mack" McNair was killed. Morgan suffered head trauma, a broken leg and broken ribs and is still recovering.
Wal-Mart reached a settlement with McNair's two children in January. McNair, of Peekskill, New York, grew up with Morgan in New York City and was a friend and mentor to him over the years.
Wal-Mart had said earlier this year it was working toward settlements with the victims of the crash.
"We know there is nothing we can do to change what happened to Mr. McNair," company spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan said in January. "We're committed to doing what's right."
The truck driver, Kevin Roper, of Jonesboro, Georgia, faces several criminal charges, including death by auto, in state court. He has pleaded not guilty. He wasn't a defendant in Morgan's federal lawsuit.
Morgan, who starred on "Saturday Night Live" and "30 Rock," suffered what his lawyer has referred to as a traumatic brain injury. The lawyer said in March that Morgan wasn't fully recovered but was "working very hard to get better, physically, emotionally and mentally."
Morgan had hoped to attend the 40th anniversary show of "Saturday Night Live" in February but was unable to.
Limo van passengers Ardley Fuqua, of Jersey City, New Jersey, and Jeffrey Millea, of Shelton, Connecticut, also suffered serious injuries in the crash and were plaintiffs in the lawsuit against Wal-Mart.
According to a criminal complaint, Roper was operating the truck without having slept for more than 24 hours.
A preliminary investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board estimated that Roper was driving 65 mph in the minute before he slammed into Morgan's limo van on the New Jersey Turnpike. The speed limit on that stretch of the turnpike is 55 mph and was lowered to 45 mph that night because of construction.
Authorities said Roper apparently failed to slow for traffic ahead and then swerved to avoid a crash but instead his big rig smashed into the back of Morgan's limo.