Kansas residents may recall a June 2014 tractor-trailer accident that left one person dead and the comedian Tracy Morgan seriously injured. The semi involved was owned by Walmart, and the retailer subsequently settled lawsuits brought by the accident victims including Morgan. The case was once again in the headlines on Sept. 30 when Walmart initiated litigation against six insurance companies alleging that they have delayed in paying claims related to the settlement.
Walmart is seeking both punitive and compensatory damages from the insurance companies for negligence and breach of contract. The retailer claims in their lawsuit that the insurers have acted in bad faith by failing to settle claims that were within policy limits. The litigation brought against Walmart by Morgan and the other accident victims was settled for an undisclosed amount in May.
Morgan and his companions were on their way from Delaware to New York when their limousine van was struck from the rear by a semi-tractor trailer. The accident claimed the life of one comedian and left Morgan in a coma. Walmart claims that the insurance companies have avoided paying their claim by continually demanding more information in an effort to prolong the process. The lawsuit describes the activities of the insurance companies as malicious and oppressive. The lawsuit was filed in Walmart’s home state of Arkansas.
Contract disputes can become contentious, and the litigation they give rise to often includes inflammatory language and accusations. Experienced business law attorneys will likely understand that these cases are often settled, and filing a lawsuit is sometimes a way for parties involved in a contract dispute to set a beginning point for negotiations. Attorneys may also be able to help their clients to avoid such legal issues by reviewing contracts before they are signed in order to identify vague or unfair clauses that may lead to disputes in the future.