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Walmart blames the victims in Tracy Morgan crash

October 17, 2014 by Steven M. Gursten

Instead of taking responsibility for a sleep-deprived, speeding truck driver who rear-ended Morgan, Walmart blames the death and serious injuries on failure to wear seat belts

Tracy Morgan

I’d been wondering if the public scrutiny and media attention in the Tracy Morgan crash would be defended just like all of the other truck accident cases I litigate, or if the public scrutiny, media attention and the celebrity involved would cause Walmart to change its stripes – if only for this one case. Back in July, I wrote a blog post, “Is Tracy Morgan getting special treatment from Walmart after his truck accident?”

But, sure enough, Walmart’s true colors have finally shown through. In a case that made headlines when Walmart’s sleep-deprived, speeding semi-truck driver slammed into a the rear-end of a limo van, killing one  of the van’s passengers and critically injuring comedian Tracy Morgan, Walmart refuses to own up and take responsibility.

Welcome to my world.

Instead of taking responsibility – which, by the way, is exactly what Walmart said it would do when it issued a public press release stating it was “committed to doing the right thing for all involved” – Walmart has opted instead for taking out the tried and true playbook that insurance companies and skilled defense attorneys use:

Blaming the victim!

So, Walmart – it  wasn’t the sleep-deprived, speeding truck driver slamming into the limo van that caused the death of one person, and the serious personal injuries to the others?
Nope, says Walmart.  If only Mr. Morgan and his fellow passengers had been wearing seat belts.

In a recent filing in Mr. Morgan’s lawsuit, Walmart said:

  • Mr. Morgan’s injuries, the injuries of his fellow passengers and the death of one passenger (who was a close friend of Morgan’s) were “‘caused, in whole or in part, by plaintiffs’ failure to properly wear an appropriate available seat belt restraint device.’” (CNN)
  • “‘By failing to exercise ordinary care in making use of available seat belts,’” Mr. Morgan and his fellow passengers had “‘acted unreasonably and in disregard of (their) own best interests.’” (Bloomberg; CNN)
  • If Mr. Morgan and his fellow “passengers had been wearing safety restraints, ‘all or a portion of the injuries could have been diminished or minimized.’” (ABC)

People are aghast at Walmart’s refusal to take responsibility. But this happens in courtrooms every single day. The best defense is always a good offense. And in all personal injury cases and especially with traumatic brain injury cases, that always means attacking the accident victim. It’s also what they do when they use these “hired gun” IME doctors who are paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to say there’s nothing wrong with injured people and then suggest somehow they’re exaggerating their injuries for money. It’s outrageous and unbelievably disingenuous. Just as it’s outrageous and disingenuous for Walmart to attempt to shift blame for this tragic truck accident to Tracy Morgan and the other limousine van occupants.

Take just one look at the post-crash condition of the limo van, and tell me if wearing or not wearing a seat belt is the real issue here:

Van Tracy Morgan crash

Tomorrow, I’ll further discuss issues surrounding Wal-Mart’s terrible handling of this truck accident case.


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