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Walmart Faces Lawsuit in Tracy Morgan Accident Involving Metro Atlanta Trucker

Walmart truck driver Kevin Roper of Jonesboro was charged with one count of death-by-auto and other charges in the crash that killed a New York man and critically injured actor and comedian Tracy Morgan.

Actor and comedian Tracy Morgan is suing Walmart for negligence after one of its drivers -- a Jonesboro, GA, man -- reportedly fell asleep and crashed into Morgan's limo. File|Patch
Actor and comedian Tracy Morgan is suing Walmart for negligence after one of its drivers -- a Jonesboro, GA, man -- reportedly fell asleep and crashed into Morgan's limo. File|Patch

By Rose Driscoll

Actor and comedian Tracy Morgan is suing Walmart over the June 7 multiple-vehicle accident in Middlesex County, N.J., that left him critically injured and killed a fellow comedian, James McNair, according to his publicist. 

The lawsuit claims that a Walmart truck-driver, Kevin Roper of Jonesboro, GA, fell asleep at the wheel and caused the accident that hospitalized Morgan for weeks at Robert Wood Johnson University Medical Center in New Brunswick.

Morgan, who was hospitalized after the crash for a broken leg and broken ribs, has been released from an undisclosed rehabilitation center and will continue his recovery efforts at home with an "aggressive" outpatient program, his publicist, Lewis Kay, said. 

"He asked me to pass along his sincerest gratitude to everyone who has helped him get to this point," he said. "He would also appreciate some privacy during this crucial point in his recovery."

Kay confirmed that Morgan, along with the other victims of "this horrific accident," have filed a lawsuit. He referred further questions about the lawsuit to their lawyer, Benedict Morelli.  

The lawsuit blames Walmart, claiming the company was negligent because it did not know that Roper had been awake for over 24 hours when he was sent on a 7,000-mile commute. Roper has pleaded not guilty on all charges. 

"As a result of Walmart's gross, reckless, willful, wanton, and intentional conduct, it should be appropriately punished with the imposition of punitive damages," the lawsuit reads, according to The Washington Post

Morgan filed the suit on Thursday with the U.S. District Court in New Jersey. 

Walmart, in a statement released Saturday, said it was cooperating fully with the investigation.

The Cranbury, N.J. crash on Saturday killed McNair, 63, of Peekskill, N.Y., while two others - a 36-year-old man from SheltonCt. and a 43-year-old man from Jersey City - were also hospitalized at Robert Wood Johnson University Medical Center, said Zenaida Mendez, spokeswoman for the hospital.

Morgan's limo bus overturned last month on the New Jersey Turnpike in the early morning crash.

Roper was later charged with one count of death by auto and four counts of assault by auto after the tractor-trailer he was driving crashed into the van at 1 a.m. Saturday, according to the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office. He has pleased not-guilty to the charges.

Walmart released a statement to the media saying the department-store chain is "profoundly sorry that one of our trucks was involved" and that the company will cooperate fully with law enforcement.

A preliminary investigation determined that the tractor-trailer crashed into the van, a 2012 Mercedes Sprinter, as both vehicles traveled in the northbound lanes of the New Jersey Turnpike. Four other vehicles were involved in the crash. None of the occupants of those vehicles was injured, according to the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office. 

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