Kevin Roper, the driver of a Wal-Mart truck involved in a crash that injured comedian Tracy Morgan and killed Morgan's colleague, has been barred by a New Jersey judge from becoming part of Morgan’s civil case against the retailer.
U.S. District Judge Lois Goodman ruled against Roper’s bid submitted in November to become part of the civil case, which was filed in July, one month after the accident.
Roper was driving on the New Jersey Turnpike on June 7 without having slept for 24 hours as he neared the end of his driving shift, according to police and National Transportation Safety Board reports. His truck hit the van that was taking Morgan, James McNair, and two others back to New York from an engagement at a Delaware casino. McNair was killed.
Goodman’s 12-page ruling said, “Roper has not shown that he has a claim or defense that shares common questions of law and fact.”
Her ruling also said the “allegations in the complaint is that the defendants routinely ignored federal regulations. This does not focus on Roper and his conduct.”
After investigating the wreck that occurred during a congressional debate over truck safety, NTSB found that Roper was driving 65 mph and didn’t apply the brakes for 60 seconds before the accident. He was within 30 minutes of completing his assignment when the accident occurred in a 45-mph construction zone.
Goodman also barred Wal-Mart Stores Inc. from district court filings for 30 days from Feb. 3 to give Roper a chance to appeal the decision to an appellate court.
Roper still faces criminal charges, including death by auto. He is free on bail until the case is heard, but Wal-Mart has barred him from driving its trucks.
In recent weeks, two McNair children settled a separate case with the retailer.