Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. and Wal-Mart Transportation were sued in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey by Tracy Morgan and others in connection with the deadly tractor trailer truck crash last summer on the New Jersey Turnpike that left one person dead and left the 30 Rock star in critical condition. Wal-Mart’s Answer to the Tracy Morgan lawsuit blames the serious injuries suffered by Mr. Morgan not on the fact that an 80,000 lbs. Wal-Mart tractor trailer slammed into Morgan’s bus going 20 mph over the speed limit, but rather on the fact that Morgan was not wearing a seat belt.
According to Wal-Mart, Morgan’s serious injuries were not caused by the fact that Wal-Mart’s driver, Kevin Roper, had not slept for over 24 hours, that he was speeding, or that he rammed his Wal-Mart tractor trailer into a stopped bus. No, the injuries were Morgan’s fault. Some may argue that Wal-Mart is simply raising the seat belt defense as a matter of course, but that it will eventually accept responsibility. I don’t think so. In Wal-Mart’s Third Affirmative Defense, it denies that Morgan’s injuries were proximately caused by Roper’s actions. Moreover, Wal-Mart refuses to admit that Roper is it’s agent or employee, for whom Wal-Mart would be vicariously responsible. Are you kidding me? Talk about shamelessly shirking responsibility.
In addition to trying to blame Morgan for his injuries, Wal-Mart’s Answer hides consistently behind the ongoing investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), stating in paragraph after paragraph that Wal-Mart is unable to admit or deny allegations in Morgan’s lawsuit unless the court enters a protective order shielding Wal-Mart’s responses from public view.
This Answer is a perfect example of why tort reform should not be directed at plaintiffs, but rather at defendants who file such frivolous defenses.