Attorneys of Walmart driver: One case at a time

By Greg Grisolano, Land Line staff writer | Monday, November 17, 2014

The attorney representing Kevin Roper, the Walmart truck driver accused of vehicular homicide following a fatal crash last summer, is seeking a court order to halt a civil lawsuit, pending the outcome of a criminal case involving his client. The June 7 crash on the New Jersey Turnpike left one man dead and several more injured – including actor and comedian Tracy Morgan.

In addition to the vehicular homicide charge, Roper is facing four counts of assault by auto in New Jersey State Court. He has pleaded not guilty to all criminal charges. Along with the criminal case, Morgan and the other victims who were injured in the June 7 crash on the New Jersey turnpike have filed a negligence suit in federal court against Walmart, Roper’s former employer.

In documents filed with the United States District Court of New Jersey on Nov. 14, Roper’s attorney, David J. Glassman, asked for a stay of discovery in the civil case, arguing that allowing the plaintiffs’ attorneys to interview his client during the discovery portion of the case could jeopardize his client’s rights in the criminal proceedings and would violate his rights under the Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination.

Although not a named party in the civil suit, allegations of improper actions on Roper’s part are found in the civil complaint.

The lawsuit states that Morgan and the other passengers sustained “severe painful bodily injuries” including multiple fractures requiring multiple surgeries, extensive medical treatment, and significant physical rehabilitation. It also alleges that the 35-year-old Roper, fell asleep behind the wheel while driving, and that the collision avoidance technology installed in the truck failed to automatically engage the brakes.

The other three plaintiffs in the suit are comedian Ardley Fuqua Jr.; Morgan’s personal assistant, Jeffrey Millea; and Millea’s wife, Krista. Fuqua and Jeffrey Millea were passengers in the van when it crashed.

The lawsuit alleges that Roper commuted from his home in Jonesboro, Ga., roughly 750 miles from the Walmart distribution center in Smyrna, Del., before starting his work shift on the morning of Friday, June 6, approximately 13 and a half hours before the crash. A criminal complaint filed by the Middlesex County prosecutor states that Roper had not slept for “a period of in excess of 24 hours,” but the document does not state any additional details as to how investigators arrived at that conclusion.

A ruling on the motion is expected by Dec. 15.

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