Wal-Mart & Tracy Morgan May Seal Docs

     (CN) – Comedian Tracy Morgan and Wal-Mart may conceal settlement amounts stemming from the 2014 vehicle accident that left the Saturday Night Live vet severely injured and killed another, a federal judge ruled.
     Morgan and fellow comedian Ardley Fuqua Jr., along with Morgan’s personal assistant, Jeffrey Millea, and his wife Krista Millea sued Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Wal-Mart Transportation LLC in New Jersey federal court on July 10, 2014.
     The crash that led to the lawsuit occurred in the wee hours of June 7, 2014, while Morgan was on the way home from performing stand-up at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino in Delaware.
     While traveling north on the New Jersey Turnpike near Cranbury, N.J., a Wal-Mart truck rear-ended the SUV limo in which Morgan, Fuqua, Millea, and two other comedians – James McNair aka Jimmy Mack and Harris Stanton – were riding.
     The truck driver, Kevin Roper, was driving 65 mph in a 45 mph construction zone and had logged 13 hours and 32 minutes of driving at the time of the collision, according to National Transportation Safety Board. The agency says the legal limit for a trucker’s shift is 14 hours.
     While McNair was killed in the crash, Morgan was left with brain injuries, a broken leg, broken nose, and broken ribs and many other friends were injured.
     Roper was charged with death by auto and assault by auto.
     Morgan’s complaint says Wal-Mart should have known Roper had been awake for more than 24 hours, had an “unreasonable” commute of 700 miles from his home in Georgia to work in Delaware, and fell asleep at the wheel.
     Wal-Mart filed an answer on Sept. 29, claiming that the plaintiffs’ injuries “were caused, in whole or in part, by plaintiffs’ failure to properly wear an appropriate available seatbelt.”
     After the parties reached a settlement, Morgan and the retail giant jointly moved to permanently seal documents related to the settlement and request for attorneys’ fees on May 27.
     U.S. District Judge Michael Shipp granted the motion Tuesday.
     “Although the public may be interested in this case, the public has no legitimate interest in gaining access to this confidential information, as this is a case between private parties,” the unpublished ruling states. “As the application contains confidential material throughout, there is no less restrictive means to prevent the injury discussed above. Thus, when the aforementioned factors are weighed against the presumption of access by the public, the parties have a significant interest in the confidentiality of the settlement information and serious injury would result if the parties’ requested relief is not granted.”
     In response to a request for comment, Wal-Mart spokesman Randy Hargrove stated, “As we said on May 27 when we issued the joint press release announcing the settlement, the terms and conditions of the settlement with Mr. Morgan and the other plaintiffs remain confidential. A joint motion was filed asking the federal judge to seal documents related to the recent settlement and that has been granted. Beyond this, we refer you to the joint motion.”
     Attempts to get a comment from the plaintiffs were unsuccessful.

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