At this point it is probably safe to say that most people have heard of the commercial trucking accident involving comedian Tracy Morgan, his personal assistant, and several other comics. The accident illustrates the often catastrophic consequences wrought by trucking accidents due to the vehicle’s mass and high speeds that can often be involved. On or about July 10, 2014 Mr. Morgan and other plaintiffs, including Ardley Fuqua Jr., Jeffery Millea, and Krista Millea, filed suit against the truck driver’s employer, Wal-Mart. The suit seeks unspecified damages in excess of the jurisdictional floor of $75,000 for the injuries suffered by Mr. Morgan and the other occupants of the vehicle and the damages experienced by the family members of those injured.
Mr. Morgan and the other plaintiff’s lawsuit constitutes the civil portion of this trial. Meaning that this litigation is between private parties. The driver of the truck, Kevin Roper, also faces criminal charges including death by auto and assault by auto. This post will focus solely on the civil portion of the matter.
What Are the Facts Surrounding the Accident?
Before we go any further it is important to note that this factual synopsis is derived from news reports and from the plaintiff’s statement of facts. The defendant may or may not choose to contest the facts in its Answer to plaintiff’s complaint.
On the day and night of June 7th, Kevin Roper was driving a commercial truck that originated from the Walmart facility in Symrna, Delaware. Mr. Roper began driving a 2011 Peterbilt tractor-trailer just before 11:30 am on Jun 6, 2014.
The comedians and their staff were present at Dover Downs Casino in Dover, Delaware to perform for a comedy show. The casino provided the comedians and their party with a Mercedes limousine to bring them home. The limousine departed the casino at about 11:30 PM on June 6th.
The speed limit on the New Jersey Turnpike had been reduced due to construction work. Signs on the roadway warned motorists of the speed reduction from 55 miles per an hour to 45 miles per an hour and the closure of two lanes. Despite the warnings, the truck was apparently traveling at 65 miles per an hour when it collided with the limo just before 1am on June 7th. The limo was pushed forward and struck cars and trucks in front of it before rolling over on to its side. The limo occupants suffered serious injuries included broken bones and one occupant died.
On What Grounds is the Lawsuit Based?
Tracy Morgan, Ardley Fuqua, Jr., and Jeffery Millea have all sued under negligence grounds. Each count of the complaint alleges that Mr. Roper was an employee of Walmart at the time of the accident and operating the truck in the course of regular business. Each negligence count also alleges that “Walmart was careless and negligent in the ownership and operation of its motor vehicle, which caused [the plaintiff] to suffer severe personal injuries.”
Furthermore the complaint alleges for plaintiff that “As a direct and proximate result of the physical injuries sustained by [the plaintiff] in the collision, he has been incapacitated from pursuing his usual employment and other activities, may be left with disabilities that will in the future similarly incapacitate him and cause him pain and suffering, and may require medical treatment.” This statement not only pleads that there was causation between the driver’s actions and the plaintiff’s injuries, but also states that the plaintiffs have suffered damages due to lost wages and lost enjoyment. Finally, the statement leaves the door open for additional damages as the full extent and full duration of injuries are not currently known.
Finally, Krista Millea, wife of Jeffery Millea, has filed a claim for loss of consortium. This account argues that Mrs. Millea, who was 8-months pregnant, has been deprived of the services of her husband including: “to maintaining the home, providing love, companionship, affection, society, sexual relations, moral support, and solace.”
The complaint also alleges that Walmart was reckless or intentional in its conduct. The specific allegations by plaintiffs include that Walmart knew or should have known that:
- Mr. Roper’s hours did not comply with FMCSA regulations.
- Mr. Roper was awake for more than 24 consecutive hours.
- Mr. Roper’s 700 mile commute to the Walmart facility in Delaware was unreasonable prior to a long shift.
- The truck’s safety system had malfunctioned or was not working properly.
Furthermore, the complaint alleges that “Wal-Mart recklessly and intentionally engaged in a pattern and practice of having its drivers violating the [FMCSA] Regulations.”
The attorneys in this matter have made some rather serious allegations regarding Walmart’s operations and business practices. It will be interesting to see if they can carry the burden or if this matter will settle before trial.
An Arkansas Truck Accident Lawyer Can Help If You’ve Been Injured
If you have been injured in a catastrophic commercial trucking accident, you may also be entitled to compensation for your injuries and other damages. An experienced Fayetteville auto accident attorney, like Ken Kieklak, can stand-up to the insurance company and fight for Arkansans like you. For your free trucking accident consultation, call us at (479) 316-0438 or contact us online.
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