The truck driver charged in a New Jersey highway crash that injured comedian-actor Tracy Morgan and killed another man filed a request Friday to delay a federal lawsuit while his criminal case proceeds in state court.
Kevin Roper’s attorney filed a motion in federal court to put Morgan’s lawsuit on hold pending the outcome of Roper’s criminal case in New Jersey. Roper has pleaded not guilty to one count of death by auto and four counts of assault by auto in the June 7 crash.
Morgan suffered leg and rib injuries and spent several weeks in the hospital and in rehab. Three other passengers were injured, two seriously, and fellow comedian James McNair was killed.
Morgan sued Wal-Mart, which owned the tractor-trailer Roper was driving, seeking punitive and compensatory damages. Roper is not named as a defendant in the suit, though allegations are made against him.
In Friday’s filing, attorney David Glassman contended that allowing the suit to go forward in federal court would essentially force Roper to defend two actions at once. Continuing the federal case while the state case is pending 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,” Glassman wrote.
An attorney representing Morgan in the lawsuit didn’t return an email seeking comment.
Morgan, a former “Saturday Night Live” and “30 Rock” star, was returning from a performance in Delaware in June when the Wal-Mart truck slammed into the back of his limo van.
A preliminary investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board said Roper was driving 65 mph (105 kph) in the 60 seconds before he slammed into the van. The speed limit on that stretch of the New Jersey Turnpike is 55 mph (90 kph) and was lowered to 45 mph (72 kph) that night because of construction.
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