Family of Comedian Killed in Tracy Morgan Crash Settles Claim

By DAVID PORTER, Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — The family of a comedian killed in the New Jersey Turnpike crash that seriously injured Tracy Morgan last summer has settled a wrongful death claim.

The out-of-court settlement between Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and the estate of James McNair is the first stemming from the June 7 crash in which a Wal-Mart truck slammed into a limo van carrying Morgan and others home from a show in Delaware.

Morgan, the former “Saturday Night Live” and “30 Rock” star, suffered a traumatic brain injury in the accident, according to his lawyer. Criminal charges against truck driver Kevin Roper are pending in state court in New Jersey.

McNair, 62, of Peekskill, grew up with Morgan in Brooklyn and was a friend and mentor to him over the years.

The terms of the settlement are confidential, but McNair family attorney Daryl Zaslow told The Associated Press that they were pleased with the outcome.

Wal-Mart “caused extensive damage” to the family but accepted responsibility and “more than stepped up to the plate and took care of this family,” Zaslow said.

“Ultimately they did the right thing by the McNairs,” he said.

Wal-Mart spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan said the company was working toward settlements with others injured in the accident.

“We know there is nothing we can do to change what happened to Mr. McNair,” Buchanan said. “We’re committed to doing what’s right.”

In an interview with the AP on Wednesday, McNair’s children — Denita, 19, and Jamel, 26 — described their father as a humble, grounded man. They said he attained a level of fame but cared less about the trappings of celebrity than about helping others, whether through advice to young comedians or giving out free Thanksgiving turkeys to needy families in his hometown.

“You don’t have to be a celebrity to make a difference in a lot of people’s lives,” …read more    

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