Tracy Morgan has spoken out against Walmart after the company said the comedian should have been wearing a seat belt during the accident that left him severely injured and killed his friend.
“After I heard what Walmart said in court I felt I had to speak out,” he said in a statement, issued Tuesday by his rep Lewis Kay. “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.”
In a complaint filed to U.S. District Court in New Jersey on Monday, Walmart said Morgan’s injuries and those sustained by others in the car were “caused, in whole or in part, by plaintiffs’ failure to properly wear an appropriate available seat belt restraint device.”
“By failing to exercise ordinary care in making use of available seatbelts, upon information and belief, plaintiffs acted unreasonably and in disregard of plaintiffs’ own best interests,” the complaint says. “Accordingly, all or a portion of the injuries could have been diminished or minimized by the exercise or reasonable conduct in using their available seatbelts.”
Morgan is suing Walmart for the June accident, in which a truck driven by Walmart employee Kevin Roper struck Morgan’s vehicle in the rear, according to police. The accident left Morgan with severe injuries, including a broken leg, broken ribs and broken nose, and killed fellow comedian James “Jimmy Mack” McNair. Three others in Morgan’s limo were also injured.
Morgan and fellow crash survivors Jeffrey Millea, his wife Krista, and Ardie Fuqua filed a suit against Walmart where they alleged that the company allowed Roper to drive after being “awake for more than 24 consecutive hours.” According to the suit, this caused Roper to fall asleep at the wheel and strike the vehicle.
Roper has pleaded not guilty to charges of death by auto and assault by auto.
In the most recent update in August, Morgan’s attorney, Benedict Morelli, said that the “30 Rock” actor is “still struggling” with his injuries. He was released from rehabilitation on July 12.
The National Transportation Safety Board said that Roper was going 65 mph in a 45 mph construction zone just before the accident. The crash caused a pileup on the New Jersey Turnpike involving four other vehicles.