The truck operator at the center of comedian Tracy Morgan’s lawsuit against Walmart and its private fleet has filed an appeal against a judge’s recent ruling that allowed the case to proceed in light of the criminal case against the driver.
Driver Kevin Roper filed his appeal Feb. 16, following federal Judge Lois Goodman’s Feb. 3 order denying Roper’s second request to delay Morgan’s lawsuit against Walmart until the criminal proceedings conclude.
Goodman said Roper’s previous attempt did not fit the criteria set by precedent to allow him to intervene in the civil proceedings.
In his latest appeal, however, Roper and his legal team argue otherwise.
Roper is facing charges of manslaughter and assault by auto from the June 2014 crash. He has pleaded not guilty to both.
The National Transportation Safety Board concluded in its investigation of the crash that Roper was speeding — going roughly 65 mph in a 45 mph zone — and dozed off prior to the crash.
The Walmart Transportation truck he was piloting on the New Jersey Turnpike rear-ended a Mercedes van carrying Morgan and others, including comedian James McNair, who was killed in the crash.
The NTSB also concluded Roper started his work day after commuting 700 miles in his personal vehicle from Georgia to a Walmart terminal in Delaware. Morgan claims in his lawsuit that Walmart was negligent in allowing Roper to operate the truck following his odd commute.