Tracy Morgan’s attorney, Benedict Morelli, appeared on a Monday morning segment of The Today Show, offering an update about the recovery of his comedian client – who suffered broken ribs, a broken nose and a broken leg back in June, after his limousine was hit by a Walmart truck on June 7th. “He’s still struggling, but he’s a fighter,” Morelli said of Morgan’s progress. “He’s had issues before that he’s fought through, and he’s fighting hard. The interesting thing is that at the beginning, the Internet was saying that he was dead. They said they amputated his leg. . . None of these things are true or accurate.”
Later in the segment, Today host Matt Lauer shifted the interview focus to the accident itself and its messy legal aftermath. Morgan previously filed a lawsuit against Walmart, alleging the company “knew or should have known” that driver Kevin Roper had been “awake for more than 24 consecutive hours” before the tragic crash that killed Morgan’s friend, comic James McNair, and injured several others.
“You have to understand what happens here,” Morelli said. “Mr. Roper. . . drove 750 miles to pick up the truck in Delaware, and so he was up for approximately 25 hours when the accident happened.” Lauer then questions whether or not Walmart could have or should have known about his condition, reading from the company’s own investigative report that said Roper drove the truck below the legal time limit.
“They’re allowed to work for 14 hours total,” Morelli said. “He wasn’t finished working when he had the accident. He was already driving 13 hours and 22 minutes. . . He would’ve wound up working over 14 hours to begin with.
“And I’m going to show if I have to, in court, that that’s the culture – that’s what they set up,” he said later. “They know. And by the way, he isn’t the only driver who drives hundreds of miles to get to work. They have to make sure that this doesn’t happen. One of the reasons that the NTSB is doing such an extensive investigation here is because there are 75 deaths a day from big-rigs. It’s been increasing – and that statistic’s from 2012.”
Morelli said Walmart is responsible for Roper’s actions “because he works for Walmart,” noting that he also represents Morgan’s assistant, Jeffrey Millea and fellow comic Ardie Fuqua (who is “still in the hospital”). When asked if the suit could be settled before entering the courtroom, Morelli said, “That’s up to them. And I haven’t seen any ‘full responsibility’ yet. . . I promised all those families that they take full responsibility.”