Comedian Tracy Morgan is refusing to testify in an insurance dispute challenging the multimillion-dollar payout he received after a serious car accident.
In 2014, the 30 Rock star was a passenger in a limousine struck by a truck owned by U.S. retailer Walmart.
Morgan’s friend the comedian Jimmy Mack died in the accident and the 48-year-old broke his legs and ribs and suffered a brain injury.
The funnyman and other survivors of the accident sued the company, and bosses agreed a mammoth settlement deal, reported to be worth $90 million (£70 million) to Morgan and fellow funnyman Ardie Fuqua, in May 2015.
Lawyers for Walmart’s insurer Ohio Casualty are suing the retailer to challenge the undisclosed payout, and want Morgan to testify under oath in a seven hour deposition to probe his post-settlement spending and answer their claims he exaggerated his injuries.
The comedian’s lawyer Benedict Morelli has said Morgan will refuse to appear unless ordered, and called the attempt to depose his client, “harassment”.
“Deposing Tracy Morgan will lead to nothing. We are opposing it,” Morelli told The New York Post.
“The people I represented were all in comas for more than a week. They were devastatingly injured.”
He added, “It’s all about harassment. They’re making my clients victims again so that they could save their insurance company some money.”
Morgan, Fuqua, Mack and a friend were returning home from a stand-up comedy gig at a Delaware casino when the Walmart truck crashed into their vehicle while they were travelling on the New Jersey Turnpike.
The truck’s driver Kevin Roper had allegedly not slept for more than 24 hours before the accident and pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide and aggravated assault.
Morelli said the severe injuries had harmed Morgan’s career, as he struggled to remember his stand-up routines.
“When he does stand-up comedy now, he has a stool and he keeps sitting down because he can’t stand,” Morelli said. “He now needs notes when he does stand-up because he doesn’t have the same memory.”
He also denied his clients received $90 million in the settlement.
A judge will rule on whether Morgan must be deposed in Ohio Casualty’s New Jersey federal lawsuit on June 19th 2017).