Though a settlement in the deadly July 7, 2014, accident involving comedian Tracy Morgan was publicly announced two years ago, Walmart and its insurers continue to battle over its reimbursement. Morgan could be required to testify in the lawsuit between Walmart and two insurers, Ohio Casualty Insurance Company and Liberty Mutual Insurance Underwriters.
Another insurer, XL Insurance America, settled with Walmart last year.
According to a press release issued by the Arkansas-based retail giant in 2015, the terms of the settlement with Morgan and two other plaintiffs, Ardley Fuqua and Jeffrey Millea, remain confidential.
Morgan who sustained a brain injury as a result of the multi-vehicle crash that left one man dead, stated, ” Walmart did right by me and my family, and for my associates and their families. I am grateful that the case was resolved amicably.”
Though it appeared Morgan had put the accident behind him, a judge is set to decide whether he will have to testify in a deposition relating to the retail giant’s ongoing battle with its insurers. As reported by the New York Daily News on Jan 13, 2017, as part of the lawsuit, the comedian was ordered to hand over six years of tax returns and other information related to his settlement.
The dispute centers on the settlement amount agreed upon between Walmart and Morgan.
An August 2, 2016, article written by Eriq Gardner and published The Hollywood Reporter reported that the insurers alleged Walmart did not investigate and evaluate the injury claims properly nor provided the insurers with a report of the settlement negotiations. In addition, the insurers’ lawsuit alleged that Morgan’s post-settlement activities suggest the settlement amount may have been too high, since he resumed hosting and guest appearances about a year after the accident. Walmart disputes the insurers allegations.
Ken Frenchman, a principal in the New York law office of McKool Smith, said the insurers are arguing that the amount Walmart paid to settle Morgan’s claim is unreasonable.
“If the settlement reflects a lifetime of pain and suffering and loss of working in a very lucrative job, that would add up to a lot of damages. If it’s a year of pain and suffering and being out of work in a lucrative job, it would be much less damaging,” said Frenchman.
He said the insurers are likely looking at what Morgan is doing now. There’s a problem with that, Frenchman said, because Walmart settled with Morgan based on the information it had at the time. If a plaintiff settles for a certain amount, he or she can’t go back and ask for more, he added.
According to an Associated Press report, Morgan suffered a broken leg, broken ribs and head injuries as a result of the crash. An investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board concluded driver of the Walmart truck involved hadn’t slept in the 28 hours before the crash, a finding his attorney disputed.
The report concluded Kevin Roper failed to slow down immediately before the crash despite posted warning signs on the turnpike where construction work was in progress. It found the truck was going 65 mph in a 45 mph zone until about 200 feet before impact.
The board also faulted Morgan and other passengers in the limo van for not wearing seatbelts and for adjusting headrests, which it said contributed to the severity of their injuries when the limo was struck from behind.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.
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