Walmart communications is apparently unfamiliar with the phrase “Don’t kick a man when he’s down.”
Tracy Morgan was not only down — he was almost out. ICYMI: In June, Morgan suffered nearly fatal injuries when Walmart truck crashed into his tour bus on the New Jersey Turnpike. His representatives at PMK*BNC had to tell the public that he would be OK and that he would eventually leave the hospital for an extended stay in physical rehab.
The crash killed the star’s longtime friend, comedian James McNair, and injured the other passengers. Morgan was hospitalized with broken ribs, a broken nose and a broken leg. Of course, Morgan is suing Walmart for negligence and a boat load of cash.
Now, Walmart has chosen to blame the star for the accident.
As NBCNews.com reports, Walmart filed a 28-page response to a complaint from lawyers representing Morgan and three others. Police said a truck driven by Walmart employee Kevin Roper collided with the rear of the vehicle in which Morgan was riding.
Here’s how the event proceeded, according to Walmart:
“…the passengers’ injuries were caused by their ‘failure to properly wear an appropriate available seat belt restraint device'”
The rest of that sentence should read “…rather than the massive truck that slammed into their vehicle.”
Walmart’s lawyers classify this as “unreasonable conduct.” Morgan’s lawsuit, on the other hand, says that Roper fell asleep at the wheel (among other things)…
An attorney representing Morgan and the other plaintiffs called Wal-Mart’s contentions “surprising and appalling.”
“It’s disingenuous,” attorney Benedict Morelli said. “It’s not what they said they were going to do initially, which was take full responsibility. I’m very upset, not for myself but for the families I represent.”
The fact that Walmart has chosen to dig in its heels and refrain from settling this matter outside of court ensures that it will soon become a full-fledged battle of communicators.
If you were either party’s PR counsel, would you fight, settle, or just let the courts do their thing?