Kevin Roper, the truck driver charged in the New Jersey highway crash that injured Tracy Morgan and killed comedian James McNair, is seeking a delay in the federal lawsuit against Walmart pending the outcome of his criminal case in state court. According to reports, Roper’s attorney filed the request on Friday, November 14. Roper has pleaded not guilty to one count of death by auto and four counts of assault by auto.
According to Roper’s attorney, David Glassman, letting the federal case proceed will force Roper to defend two actions at the same time and that it would affect Roper’s constitutional rights because it would “provide a de facto additional forum through which the criminal prosecution could obtain evidence for use in the criminal trial against Roper”. However, it should be noted that Roper is not named as a defendant in the federal case against Walmart.
— KRON 4 News (@kron4news) June 11, 2014
Back in July, Morgan sued Walmart for criminal negligence after it was found out that Roper, who was hired to drive the truck for the company, had been awake for more than 24 hours and fell asleep behind the wheel at the time of the accident. Walmart contends that Morgan was at fault because he wasn’t wearing his seatbelt when the crash took place.
The accident happened when Morgan was returning from a performance in Delaware back in June. The former Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock star suffered leg and rib injuries and he spent several weeks in rehab. According to Morgan’s lawyer, the comedian is having a “tough time recovering from his injuries” and that he may never perform again as a result.
During a preliminary investigation of the accident, it was revealed that Roper was driving 65 mph before he slammed into Morgan’s van. The speed limit on that particular stretch of the New Jersey turnpike was 55 mph and was lowered to 45 mph due to construction in the area.