Tracy Morgan is on the mend following a June crash on the New Jersey Turnpike that left the comedian and several associates critically injured and took the life of his mentor. During a visit to TODAY Monday, Morgan's attorney said the former "30 Rock" star still has a long road ahead — both physically and in the court system.
"He's still struggling," attorney Benedict P. Morelli told TODAY's Matt Lauer. "But he's a fighter. He's had issues before that he's fought through, and he's fighting hard."
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The June 7 accident occurred when a Wal-Mart tractor-trailer plowed into the rear of Morgan's limo van. Comedian James "Jimmy Mack" McNair, a passenger in the limo, was killed. Injured along with Morgan were comedian Ardie Fuqua and Morgan's assistant Jeffrey Millea. The truck's driver, Kevin Roper, pleaded not guilty to criminal charges of vehicular homicide and assault.
Last month, Morgan and his fellow crash survivors filed a lawsuit against Wal-Mart Stores Inc. in U.S. District Court in New Jersey, alleging that Roper had been awake for over 24 hours and in the midst of long shift that exceeded federal safety limits when the crash occurred — working conditions that Morelli says are the norm for Wal-Mart truckers.
"I'm going to show if I have to in court that that's the culture (at Wal-Mart)," Morelli told Lauer. "That's what they set up. They know. ... They have to make sure that this doesn't happen."
In response to the lawsuit — which seeks punitive and compensatory damages — Wal-Mart issued a statement that read, in part, "We are cooperating with the ongoing investigation and working to resolve all of the remaining issues as a result of the accident." The statement went on to say that Wal-Mart would take "full responsibility" if the company's driver was found to be at fault.
Update, 8/13: Editor’s note: In this Aug. 11 interview on TODAY, Tracy Morgan’s attorney Benedict Morelli mistakenly said there are 75 deaths a day from big rigs. That is incorrect. According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s latest statistics, in 2012, there were 75 fatalities due to large truck crashes per week, approximately 11 per day.