Tracy Morgan speaks onstage at Spike TV's "Don Rickles: One Night Only" on May 6, 2014 in New York City.
Theo Wargo—Getty Images for Spike TV
By Noah Rayman
September 29, 2014

Updated: 6:01 p.m.

Walmart said Monday that comedian Tracy Morgan and several others injured in an accident on the New Jersey Turnpike in June were partially responsible for their injuries, for failing to wear seatbelts.

A speeding Walmart driver allegedly hit Morgan’s limo on June 7, badly injuring the comedian and killing friend and colleague James McNair. Morgan and three others brought a suit against the company in July, alleging that driver Kevin Roper was fatigued and that Walmart acted negligently.

In a response Monday, the company largely refrained from responding to the allegations brought in the suit, citing National Transportation Safety Board regulations regarding ongoing investigations.

But in a list of affirmative defenses, the company said that the injuries “were caused, in whole or in part, by plaintiffs’ failure to properly wear an appropriate available seatbelt restraint device.”

“By failing to exercise ordinary care in making use of available seatbelts, upon information and belief, plaintiffs acted unreasonably and in disregard of plaintiffs’ own best interests,” the response says. “Accordingly, all or a portion of the injuries could have been diminished or minimized by the exercise of reasonable conduct in using the available seatbelts.”

Brooke Buchanan, a company spokesperson, provided an emailed statement on Monday.

“Walmart filed its official response to the plaintiffs’ lawsuit earlier today, and the company continues to stand willing to work with Mr. Morgan and the other plaintiffs to resolve this matter,” said Brooke Buchanan, a Walmart spokesperson, in an emailed statement.

Write to Noah Rayman at noah.rayman@time.com.

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