When Tracy Morgan's limo was hit on the New Jersey Turnpike by a driver for Wal-Mart, the comic was critically injured. Another comic James McNair was killed. Two others were also badly hurt. The lawsuit representing them is "Morgan v. Wal-Mart." Obviously, a lot of money is involved.
In Bloomberg, Erik Larson reports that the retailer filed in federal court in Trenton. It contends that because Morgan was not wearing a seatbelt he is in whole or in part responsible for his injuries. He "acted unreaonably and in disregard" of his best interests. Here is that coverage.
All this is of great interest to lawyers. But the issue is much bigger than legal.
If other constituencies, ranging from the media to Morgan fans, become aware of Wal-Mart's move there could be a hit to the retailer's brand. Given how much Morgan has already suffered, one might have assumed Wal-Mart would have settled. It still might, though, if the tide of public opinion turns against it.
Currently Wal-Mart is repositioning itself from solely a big box to also the nation's banker. At the low end competition has heated up. Dollar stores, for instance, have begun selling food, often at ower cost than can Wal-Mart.
Soon, Wal-Mart will be offering easy-to-get, low-cost checking accounts. That's a kind of public service for the nation's unbanked. They cannot afford a checking account or have been shut out because of subpar credit ratings. As a result they pay through the nose to cash their pay checks and to purchase money orders to pay their bills.
One wonders if that initiative could be upended by any bad publicity generated by the challenge to Morgan's lawsuit. Or, are the unbanked so needy for a checking account that they will ignore any dust-up over Morgan's attempt to be compensated for pain and suffering.