Skip to comments.Tracy Morgan sues Wal-Mart for crash that killed 1
Posted on 07/12/2014 2:39:03 AM PDT by South40
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) Tracy Morgan has sued Wal-Mart over last month's highway crash that seriously injured him and killed a fellow comedian.
The lawsuit, filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in New Jersey, claims Wal-Mart was negligent when a driver of one of its tractor-trailers rammed into Morgan's limousine van. The complaint claims the retail giant should have known the driver had been awake for over 24 hours, 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.
"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," according to the complaint.
(Excerpt) Read more at news.msn.com ...
Do you know how many times each day that Wal-Mart is sued? They almost certainly have a large law firm on contingency that does nothing but defend them in court. Just the slip-and-falls probably require a whole battalion of lawyers.
Going for the deep pockets I see. Walmart probably has some limited liability bulwark already in place.
If those are the facts, it’s not unreasonable that Wal-mart is sued.
The man probably has a long road to recover, assuming that he can recover.
If the truck driver was indeed operating under those conditions and was a Walmart employee, Wal-Mart would be responsible for not ensuring that their drivers are working proper hours.
The plaintiff here alleges that the driver didn't get any sleep before reporting to work. I do not know how any employer can be held responsible for this unless there was some visible impairment that should been apparent to managers when the driver clocked in.
I agree. If this man drives (commutes) 700 miles to work for them in another area, then perhaps they have taken advantage of someone’s need to work, or they have just been negligent in managing their resources.
Regardless, the suit is filed and discovery can proceed, and we (the court) shall see what the facts are.
It’s a good thing the driver is black or WM would be sued for racism also.
If Wal-Mart can prove the man wasn’t working, in his employ for them, more than the regulated hours than you are probably correct, as an employer cannot be held responsible for somebody being exhausted when they show up to work.
Maybe so, but that doesn’t remove the need for holding them accountable if the court finds them negligent.
Wal-Mart has one of the largest fleets of trucks on Earth. This ain’t their first negligence suit and it won’t be their last. They’ll be held accountable for a certain dollar amount. That’s it.
There’s fault and then there’s responsibility. If the driver is acting as a Walmart employee, then he’s acting as their agent. Walmart is responsible for his actions.
Can an employer really be held responsible for the length of someone’s commute? I know someone who ‘commutes’ weekly from his home in Europe to his workplace in NY. People move cross-country or further for employment all the time.
This is the relevant paragraph.
Roper had been on the job about 13 1/2 hours at the time of the crash, the report concluded. Federal rules permit truck drivers to work up to 14 hours a day, with a maximum of 11 hours behind the wheel.
Whatever the man’s commute, he still was behind the wheel beyond what federal regulations permit, thus Wal-mart can be considered negligent.
No. The fact that he was on the clock 13 1/2 hours doesn’t mean that he was driving for that length of time. Drivers have a lot of down time while trucks are being loaded and unloaded. He also probably took periodic breaks during a long work day, just as you and I may do on a long drive.
It all depends on what can be prove to a judge.
Maybe; maybe not. Regardless, Wal-Mart will be held liable because the guy was driving their truck whether the guy walked across the street or commuted 700 miles. The 700 miles will factor into how much more they will wind up paying.
Wal-Mart owns the truck and their employee caused the accident. That’s enough to recover damages regardless of the guy’s commute.
True to a point, but we can really kick the anthill on this one. Suppose you need your living room painted and have reached the age and point of affluence that you no longer want to do it yourself. You hire a local painting company of good repute. On the way to your house, the van rolls through a stop sign and wipes out a class of preschoolers being escorted to the park. Are you liable for what "your employee" has done? The driver was, after all, only there in the first place because he was working for you, and on his way to your location.
You will answer that the driver was not your employee; he was an independent contractor. (Try this if you are a trucking company, and hire independent driver-operators .... This is a big issue.) You might get away with this if the guy is a one-day hire, but what if you are having your basement gutted and redone, and the crews are on site for a month? Or if your cleaning lady did the deed, and she has come in once a week for ten years. You clearly have a long term employment relationship with her, and hopefully have been reporting income and withholding taxes, or killing the preschoolers may be the least of your worries. How much of an employment relationship has to exist before you are liable for your agent's actions? And are you liable for their actions while they are in transit to and from your home, or only on-site?
The point is, the plaintiffs' bar is a green-seeking missile homing in at supersonic speeds on the deepest pocket. In this case, let's assume to driver was a company driver, fully in the employ of WalMart. It's still problematic: do you think employers should be responsible for what their employees do (or don't do) off the clock? How much diligence is due diligence. You had better hope that the guy you hire to paint your living room doesn't deal drugs on the side, or you might be rooming with Bubba some day.
“On the job” does not equal “behind the wheel”.
We always had to have a paper towel in our pocket for spills.
But it should affect any punitive damages, no?
Accidents happen, and people get killed. The responsible party pays damages. This happens every day, and if it happens to us, we all hope the guy who kills our family member is not an Obama voter or illegal alien with no assets and no insurance.
How much a life is worth is a difficult question. In principle, the affluence of the victim and/or the size or wealth of the perpetrator should not factor into it. It does, of course, but in principle I would like to think that your life, or mine, is as valuable as Bill Gates' life in a wrongful death suit arising from an automobile accident.
I have for some years proposed two hypothetical but clarifying remedies when this discussion arises.
(1) Suppose we let people -- all of us -- value our own lives as we see fit. After all, we do this already, and voluntarily, through the life insurance that we choose to carry. This is a precise measure of the value we place on our own lives when we are paying the premiums ourselves. So let's have a rule that in a wrongful death suit, the next of kin can recover an amount equal to the deceased person's life insurance. Not a penny more.
(2) Alternatively, let's impose a cosmic justice rule, and say that everyone's life in such a case is worth $10 million (or pick your own figure). If that's the standard, that would then become the amount of liability insurance everyone would have to carry before driving a car, or engaging in any other activity that might cause a wrongful accidental death.
We don't think of these cases in such terms because of the optics: in this case, a big truck, which is scary; an employee of a big and presumptively evil company; and a trial lawyer who graduated from the John Edwards sobbing school. This turn the whole thing into a jackpot, which is a profound corruption that we've been living with for many years.
WalMart should be liable for whatever a generic wrongful automobile accident death is worth -- e.g., what you would pay if you accidentally killed someone this afternoon, and it was your fault. To expand the judgment beyond that, one would have to show negligence on the part of the company, and that's where a reasonable limit to an employer's responsibility for the off-work activities of employees comes into play.
Fifteen or more years ago, on a cold, sleeting night, I was exiting my local Safeway and stepped off the curb in front of the store into the parking lot. I was walking normally, not in ice-storm-defense-mode, and I stepped onto a patch of black ice and went flying. I was gratified that long dormant football skills kicked in, and I rolled through what much have looked to bystanders as a quite spectacular head over heels tumble.
Were I a democrat, I suppose I could have stayed down, clutching my back, head, and knee, and groaning softly. I would probably be retired by now. As it was, I rolled through the fall, embarrassed because I had been careless, and popped up with no harm done. Not even a bruise. There were, btw, half a dozen Safeway employees on the spot in a flash; besides being a friendly crew at that particular store, they had probably sat through the same safety lecture you had.
Is Safeway liable for having black ice on their parking lot in the middle of an ice storm? The conditions were clearly sleety. I should have been paying better attention. Where does a company's liability end? I do not think trial lawyers should draw these lines.
They are getting sued by an actor/comedian who has $$ and has been pretty successful on two long running TV shows. Morgan has the $$ to get the lawyers to go after Wal Mart full force. And, with the loss of potential income by Morgan...Wal Mart is looking at least a large six figure loss
And Wal Mart is no hero. They have been the largest wealth redistributor to Communist China through loss of manufacturing jobs (mostly non union mfg. jobs in the South)...and recently started to whine over government welfare and benefit cuts...Wal Mart relies on Welfare programs for business
Although recently Wal Mart is attempting to encourage creation of American jobs...Wal Mart is still the #1 enabler of Socialism
While I agree that we have become an overly litigious society and there are vulgar ambulance chasing lawyers (or did you mean vultures?), Morgan, and several others were seriously injured and one person died due to no fault of their own. Do you expect them to just suck it up?
And you also might consider that Morgans, the others and the limo companys insurance companies are most likely forcing them file suit against Wal-Mart. Their insurance companies are not going to pay out on claims when it is pretty obvious that the Wal-Mart driver was at fault.
Walmart did nothing wrong. How can they verify if a driver has gotten the adequate amount of sleep before going to work? How many times a day does a person who drives a car to and from work party their ass off the night before, be kept up by a crying baby, and other reasons and then they have accidents? It's a double standard when it comes to drivers, cars and trucks. How many thousands of times do drivers in cars have accidents? Lastly, over 80% of wrecks involving trucks are caused by four wheelers. Don't believe it, look it up.
First of all, the driver was in their employ, driving their vehicle at the time of the accident. They most certainly have a responsibility to ensure their drivers are following DOT rules and driving in a safe manner. The driver lived in Georgia but worked out of a Wal-Mart distribution center in Delaware. Lets say that the driver didnt exceed the daily and weekly working hours and driving hours limit set by the DOT, kept an accurate log book, however, lets also suppose that the driver worked 4 days on and was off for 3, given the 700+ miles he commuted each way, it might be reasonable to think that Wal-Mart was or should have been reasonably aware that their driver was not getting enough rest and sleep time. FWIW, the driver was also going 65mph at the time of the crash in an area were the speed limit was 55 mph but had been lowered to 45 mph because of construction. Im sure during discovery, those log books are going to be gone over with a fine tooth comb.
Comparing a person driving their own personal vehicle to a long haul truck driver is comparing apples to oranges. And FWIW, more and more states have passed or are considering laws against Driving While Drowsy (DWD laws) and that applies to private vehicles, not just commercial vehicles.
Someone should sue Tracy Morgan... for impersonating a comedian--
“Do you know how many times each day that Wal-Mart is sued?”
For my MBA I wrote several papers on Wal-Mart, which publishes all its data. At the time, 2005, they were being sued 500 times a day. They had the largest on-staff and on-retainer legal assistance of any company in the world.
However, assuming the people running the show ever hear about this case, they may settle out of court. The company is ethically run. The question will be are they culpable or are they simply the largest pocket? They contract out almost all work, so was this guy really an “employee” of Wal-Mart? (For simplicity I often called myself an employee where I worked even though I was a contractor.)
So, by your theory people who kill small children are the least culpable? By your theory small children’s lives have no value, because, hey, how often do children have life insurance?
I believe the law of agency covers this pretty clearly and Walmart will pay. I wouldn’t be surprised if this a subrogation effort by whomever is Morgan’s health coverage provider.
drivel...... pure unadulterated antiwalmart drivel
As a general rule, principals are not liable for the acts of independent contractors. There are exceptions, but that's the general rule.
Do you think a rich person’s life should be worth more than a poor person’s life?
When I was in my 20’s I used to drive ~750 miles from Tennessee to NY without a break other than for gas and to use a rest room. I was a zombie by the time I arrived and could barely keep my eyes open. I was lucky I didnt hit anything.
I thought companies were not supposed to be in our bedrooms.
Tracy Morgan sues Wal-Mart for crash...
Wow, who seen THAT coming.
Correct. I do some bus driving for a Christian camp. The camp is about 450 miles from our start point. A round trip takes about 20 hours, but although we’re in the vehicle, we have multiple drivers, usually three. One of our drivers is a motor carrier enforcement officer. We’re well within the legalities.
Agreed. The next time he utters something funny will be the first time.
I believe that under New Jersey law, the first target of any lawsuit in this case would be the owner of the vehicle in which Morgan was traveling (in this case, the limousine company). The limousine company would then cross-claim for contribution against the truck driver and Wal-Mart. If Morgan wins a $10 million settlement and the limousine company has a $1 million limit under their insurance, then the limousine company's insurance carrier pays $1M and the other defendants would pay the rest. The limo's insurance carrier would then file for subrogation against the other defendants to recover their $1 million.
Morgan's damages will include compensatory damages and "pain and suffering," both of which would seem to be reasonable in this case. In most frivolous claims it is the "pain and suffering" part that's the scam, since you can't really measure it and it really is a crap-shoot with a jury. In this case it's real, but may end up being dwarfed by the compensatory damages anyway. Morgan's medical bills are likely to be astronomical, and he can surely demonstrate that he has lost a lot of potential income while he's recovering from his injuries.
My prediction is that this will never see the inside of a courtroom.
Welcome to FR, and your post on the store the left hates the most, the gun selling store that won’t go union.
You’ve been making a lot of statements that are not supported by the facts, at least the facts related to us and the facts you’re quoting. I’m not sure whether you realize that or not.
One example, you stated: “Whatever the mans commute, he still was behind the wheel beyond what federal regulations permit, thus Wal-mart can be considered negligent.”
That statement was based on the following: “Roper had been on the job about 13 1/2 hours at the time of the crash, the report concluded. Federal rules permit truck drivers to work up to 14 hours a day, with a maximum of 11 hours behind the wheel.”
Now, I’m curious as to what precisely you were thinking. Workers are permitted to work up to 14 hours a day, 11 of them behind the wheel, according to that statement the driver had NOT reached that work-day limit. Yet you ASSUMED, with no further detail, that all 14 of those hours had been behind the wheel? The statement “on-the-job” does not provide any detail on hours spent behind the wheel. That information was not provided, nor even really implied.
As another example, you stated: “...an employer cannot be held responsible for somebody being exhausted when they show up to work.”
You obviously missed the central rationale behind the legal arguments. Do you think it was coincidence that the plaintiff’s attorney made issue of a 700 mile commute? Do you think the legal team was just being conversational? The entire purpose for that statement is that they’re trying to make a point that the company DID know that their driver was going to be showing up exhausted as a rule and hence establish some reasonable culpability on the part of the employers based on that prior knowledge.
Do not jump to unsupported conclusions, such a habit both makes you less effective in daily life as well as more easily manipulable.
Lots of people disagree with you. This is obviously a case between insurance companies. What is the point in using this thread to bash the talents of a comedian enjoyed by many and who was in a crash that was injurious to him and fatal to his friend? Would you send a bouquet of stinkweed to a party thrown by someone you dislike?
I fail to see any malice in what either myself or Bender2 wrote. Neither one of us find Tracy Morgan to be “funny”, nor did we make sport of the automobile accident he was in.
Are you some sort of self appointed comedy/thought police? Do you have any credentials stating your authority?
I won’t speak for Bender2, but I couldn’t care less about who disagrees with me.
Okay, then! Be a turd in the punchbowl; see if I care.
Wait, you can’t say that without a Certification in Fecal Beverages, or something...
If anyone’s a turd, it’s you interloper.