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The Tracy Morgan Crash: Will Wal-Mart Accept Responsibility?

Tracy Morgan, the actor-comedian caught in a gruesome six-car pile-up this weekend, is in critical but stable condition, according to a spokesperson at Robert Wood Johnson Hospital in New Brunswick, NJ. Morgan is one of three passengers who are now in critical condition from the crash. His friend and fellow comedian James McNair died on the scene.The incident occurred early Saturday morning when a tractor-trailer owned by Wal-Mart collided with the back of Morgan’s vehicle on the New Jersey Turnpike.The driver of the Wal-Mart tractor-trailer, Kevin Roper, has since been charged with vehicular homicide and assault by auto. According to NJ State Police Sgt. Gregory Williams, the collision was caused by Roper failing to anticipate the slow-down in traffic. “At the last minute, he swerved to try and avoid [Morgan’s vehicle] but struck it from behind, forcing the limo to rotate and overturn,” Williams said.In the coming weeks as the three passengers in critical condition continue to be treated for their injuries, the question will arise as to who will be paying their assuredly astronomical hospital bills. Wal-Mart, whose insurance will cover the damages if tractor-trailer driver Kevin Roper should be found responsible for the collision, has already begun taking steps to protect themselves.A Twitter account under Kevin Roper’s name has a biography section that up until recently read, “Trying to win more than lose! Driving trucks for a living it’s my road move or get hit! #Wal-Mart.”Since the collision, the statement, “it’s my road move or get hit!” has been removed from the bio, and Wal-Mart spokesperson Brooke Buchanan has stated that the account, which tweeted an apology to Morgan following accident, in fact does not belong to Roper.While the criminal complaint filed against Roper claims that he had not slept for over 24 straight hours prior to the crash, Wal-Mart has already come out with a statement saying, “It is our belief that Mr. Roper was operating within the federal hours of service regulations.”Wal-Mart has a long history of going to extreme lengths to avoid taking responsibility for its actions. I will be writing in future blogs about the scorched earth tactics Wal-Mart uses to “defend” itself in court. It saddens me that the message we are already receiving from Wal-Mart’s corporate offices indicates that in the case of this crash we can expect more of the same from this corporate giant.Sources: Kevin Conlon and Doug Ganley, “Police: Driver charged in Tracy Morgan crash was awake 24 hours,” CNN, June 9, 2014.Laura Bult, Eli Rosenberg, and Daniel Beekman, “Truck driver charged in Tracy Morgan crash had ‘Move or get hit’ in Twitter bio,” NY Daily News, June 9, 2014.