The lawsuit — filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in New Jersey — alleges negligence on Walmart’s part for allowing employee Kevin Roper to drive after being “awake for more than 24 consecutive hours,” which allegedly caused him to nod off at the wheel and crash into Morgan’s limousine on June 7.
According to the National Transportation Safety Board, Roper was going 65 mph in a 45-mph construction zone just before the accident. He pled not guilty to death by auto and assault by auto charges.
“As a result of Wal-Mart’s gross, reckless, willful, wanton, and intentional conduct, it should be appropriately punished with the imposition of punitive damages,” the complaint states. “Walmart was careless and negligent in the ownership and operation of its motor vehicle, which caused Mr. Morgan to suffer severe personal injuries.”
After undergoing multiple surgeries, Morgan was transported from the hospital to a rehab facility on June 20.
The other plaintiffs include Krista Millea, wife of comedian James “Jimmy Mack” McNair, who died from the crash, Morgan’s assistant, Jeffrey Millea, and comedian Ardie Fuqua.
They’re all seeking compensatory and statutory damages, punitive damages, legal fees, and pre and post judgment interest. Millea is also suing for loss of consortium.
According to the suit, Walmart either “knew or should have known” that it was “unreasonable” for Roper to drive 700 miles from his home in Georgia to a Walmart facility in Delaware to begin his shift, especially when there are Walmart distribution facilities closer to his house. It alleges that the long drive caused him to fall asleep at the wheel.
A rep for Walmart said in a statement that the company is “committed to doing the right thing for all involved.”
“This has been a terrible tragedy. We wish Mr. Morgan, Mr. Fuqua Jr., and Mr. Millea full recoveries,” the statement reads. “Our thoughts continue to go out to them, their families and friends, as well as to the families and friends of everyone involved, including Mr. McNair, who lost his life. We are deeply sorry that one of our trucks was involved. As we’ve said, we’re 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.”