DNAinfo New York reports that the family of James McNair, a comedian killed in the June 2014 crash that landed fellow comedian Tracy Morgan in the hospital, will be paid a settlement by Walmart.
McNair’s children, Jamel McNair, 26, and Denita McNair, 19, sued Walmart last year after a truck owned by the retailer hit Morgan and McNair’s SUV on the New Jersey Turnpike. Kevin Roper, who was driving the truck, was charged with death by automobile and several other charges related to vehiclular assault.
The settlement, although concluded in October, has become public knowledge only now because of confidentiality agreements, although some court documents filed last month claimed that Walmart didn’t want the settlement publicized for fear it would hurt their business.
The McNair children will split the $10 million payout, $3 million of which will be paid to their lawyer, Daryl Zaslow.
In the filing submitted to a judge for approval of the settlement, Zaslow wrote that it was a difficult undertaking because McNair didn’t make substantial income between his stand-up comedy jobs and working part-time at the Salvation army. As a result, it was hard to prove that the family would suffer a loss of income when he died.
“In short, he had no meaningful past income to project a significant lost-wage claim,” Zaslow wrote. “Although many of my colleagues insisted that the strategy would not be successful, and for many months of negotiations this assessment of damages was not being entertained by counsel for Wal-Mart, through months of heated negotiations, [I] was able to convince Wal-Mart to view the damages through this rather unorthodox approach.”
That “unorthodox approach” included convincing Walmart that the settlement was worth it to prevent damage to their company and even more profit loss in a public lawsuit.
“While no amount of money could replace my father, the amount of money Mr. Zaslow was able to obtain again greatly exceeds anything I imagined and I could not be more grateful,” Denita McNair wrote in an affidavit included in the filing.
Zaslow would not comment on the settlement and Walmart spokesman Randy Hargrove wouldn’t speak on the terms involved, but Hargrove sent condolences to the family:
“We deeply regret the loss of Mr. McNair as a result of the accident, but Walmart worked closely with his family to ensure their well-being. Walmart will continue to work to conclude all other remaining issues, and we’re committed to doing what’s right.”
Tracy Morgan is currently suing Walmart. He suffered a brain injury from the accident.