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2014-07-12
TRENTON, NJ. Comedian's Accident At Wal-Mart's Hands No Joke

Officials at Wal-Mart are not laughing today, following the Associated Press story that comedian Tracy Morgan is suing the giant retailer over a highway accident that landed Morgan in the ICU, and killed a fellow comedian in his limousine.


Morgan filed the lawsuit two days ago in U.S. District Court in New Jersey. He is a former "Saturday Night Live" regular, and a star of the TV series "30 Rock" with Alec Baldwin and Tina Fey.

Morgan suffered a broken leg and broken ribs in the crash and is currently in a rehabilitation. The litigation charges that Wal-Mart was negligent when on June 7th one of its truck drivers slammed into Morgan's limousine, which carried five passengers. The complaint says the Wal-Mart driver fell asleep at the wheel. Morgan's lawsuit alleges that Wal-Mart should have known their driver had been awake for over 24 hours, and that his commute of 700 miles from his home in Georgia to work in Delaware was "unreasonable."

"As a result of Wal-Mart's gross, reckless, willful, wanton, and intentional conduct, it should be appropriately punished with the imposition of punitive damages," the complain says.

Wal-Mart's truck driver has pleaded not guilty to death by auto and assault by auto charges. He is further accused of not sleeping for more than 24 hours before the crash, a violation of New Jersey law. The federal investigators found that the Wal-Mart driver was going 65 mph in the minute before hitting the limousine, in a stretch of road that had been set at 45 MPH speed limit due to road construction. The driver had been on the job for almost 14 hours when the crash occurred, the AP reported. Federal law limits a truck driver to a 14 hour shift, of which no more than 11 hours can be behind the wheel.

Wal-Mart employs 7,200 truck drivers. This accident will focus new attention on the demands Wal-Mart puts on its drivers. Wal-Mart touts its transportation delivery as "one of America's safest private fleets." "As a Driver at Wal-Mart, you'll help deliver our mission of Every Day Low Prices to our customers and communities every day," Wal-Mart says. "Our associates come from a variety of backgrounds, and when you join our team of over 7,200 drivers, you'll become part of one of America's safest private fleets." According to Wal-Mart Transportation, LLC, "Our drivers average over 2.11 million miles without a preventable accident while driving more than 700 million miles each year. Making our Fleet one of the safest Industrial fleets in the U.S. for more than a decade."

On is website, Wal-Mart lists the minimum requirement for its drivers:
•Interstate Class A Commercial Driver's License with Hazmat Endorsement (or willing to obtain Hazmat Endorsement -- including cleared background check -- within 60 days of a conditional offer)
•Three years of current over-the-road tractor/trailer experience
•Minimum of 50,000 miles over-the-road tractor/trailer experience in each of the last three years
•Minimum of 250,000 miles over-the-road tractor/trailer experience
•No preventable accidents while operating a commercial motor vehicle in the last three years
•No preventable accidents while operating a commercial motor vehicle resulting in a fatality (lifetime)
•No preventable DOT recordable accidents while operating a commercial motor vehicle in the last 10 years
•No more than 1 non-preventable accident while operating a commercial motor vehicle in the last three years
•No more than two moving violations while operating a personal or commercial motor vehicle in the last three years
•No serious traffic violations while operating a commercial motor vehicle in the last three years
•No convictions for a DUI, DWI, OUI, or reckless driving with alcohol/drugs involved within the last 10 years

In its job description for over-the-road drivers, Wal-Mart says that employees must "sit for extended periods of time," and "travel to multiple facilities or work sites requiring both single and multiple day stays."

Wal-Mart truckers have also been in the news because of lawsuits over racial discrimination. In 2009, Wal-Mart entered into an $17.5 million agreement to settle the claims asserted in a class action lawsuit brought against Wal-Mart and Wal-Mart Transportation LLC. In the lawsuit, the class of African-American truck drivers asserted that Wal-Mart had discriminated against Blacks on the basis of race in recruitment and hiring for the position of over-the road truck driver in retailer's private fleet.

Readers are urged to email David Ratliff, Senior Director, Inbound Fleet Logistics for Wal-Mart Transportation, LLC at:
Dave.Ratliff@wal-mart.com with the following message:

"Dear Mr. Ratliff,

I would urge Wal-Mart to settle the Tracy Morgan lawsuit against Wal-Mart as quickly and quietly as possible. Because of this highly publicized and horrific accident, motorists across America are shifting lanes to avoid having Wal-Mart trucks behind them, and wondering how long it has been since the drivers of these big rigs have slept?

It just takes one prominent accident like this to cast doubt on your company's claim that you have "one of the safest Industrial fleets in the U.S." Give your drivers appropriate rest breaks and reasonable shifts to avoid killing any more Americans on the road."

What you can do: Readers are urged to email David Ratliff, Senior Director, Inbound Fleet Logistics for Wal-Mart Transportation, LLC at: Dave.Ratliff@wal-mart.com with the following message:

"Dear Mr. Ratliff,

I would urge Wal-Mart to settle the Tracy Morgan lawsuit against Wal-Mart as quickly and quietly as possible.

Because of this highly publicized and horrific accident, motorists across America are shifting lanes to avoid having Wal-Mart trucks behind them, and wondering how long it has been since the drivers of these big rigs have slept?

It just takes one prominent accident like this to cast doubt on your company's claim that you have "one of the safest Industrial fleets in the U.S." Give your drivers appropriate rest breaks and reasonable shifts to avoid killing any more Americans on the road."










 
 
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