Wal-Mart Stores Inc. claimed in a court document that the occupants of a van involved in the June crash that killed a colleague of comedian Tracy Morgan were not wearing seat belts at the time of the accident.
“Plaintiffs’ injuries, if any, were caused in whole or in part by plaintiffs’ failure to properly wear an appropriate available seat belt device,” said the response by Wal-Mart to a suit filed in July by Morgan and three others.
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The state police report about the June accident on the New Jersey Turnpike said that a Wal-Mart truck plowed into the back of a van in which Morgan and others were riding.
The comedian and his party were returning from an engagement at a Delaware casino.
“All or a portion of the injuries could have been diminished or minimized by the exercise of reasonable conduct in using the available seat belts,” the court filing said.
Wal-Mart made the comments in a 28-page answer to the suit filed by Morgan and three others after the accident that killed James McNair.
The truck driver, Kevin Roper, pleaded not guilty to a vehicular homicide charge in the case and is free on bond. The National Transportation Safety Board’s preliminary report on the accident said that he was speeding at the time.
In its response, Wal-Mart lists eight other so-called affirmative defenses, which are comments meant to mitigate damages.
Neither the company nor the attorneys for Morgan responded to requests for comment from TT, but Morgan released this statement, as reported by The Hollywood Reporter: "After I heard what Wal-Mart said in court I felt I had to speak out. I can't believe Wal-Mart 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."