Actor-comedian Tracy Morgan and other people in a limousine struck from behind by a Wal-Mart truck on a highway in June are at least partly to blame for their injuries because they weren’t wearing seatbelts, the company said in a court filing Monday.
The filing was made in federal court in response to a lawsuit Morgan filed in July over the accident, which killed his friend James McNair, who was accompanying the former “Saturday Night Live” and “30 Rock” star back from a show in Delaware. Morgan spent several weeks in rehab with rib and leg injuries
Wal-Mart Stores Inc., based in Bentonville, Arkansas, said in the filing that the passengers’ injuries were caused “in whole or in part” by their “failure to properly wear an appropriate available seatbelt restraint device,” which it said constitutes unreasonable conduct
An attorney representing Morgan and the other plaintiffs called Wal-Mart’s contentions “surprising and appalling.
“It’s disingenuous,” attorney Benedict Morelli said. “It’s not what they said they were going to do initially, which was take full responsibility. I’m very upset, not for myself but for the families I represent.
The lawsuit seeks a jury trial and punitive and compensatory damages. It says the retail giant should have known that its truck driver had been awake for more than 24 hours before the crash and that his commute of 700 miles from his home in Georgia to work in Delaware was “unreasonable.” It also alleges the driver fell asleep at the wheel.
Wal-Mart spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan said in an email that the company “continues to stand willing to work with Mr. Morgan and the other plaintiffs to resolve this matter.”