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US$10m award to comedian's children

Published:Sunday | March 22, 2015 | 12:00 AM

WHITE PLAINS, New York (AP):

The children of comedian James McNair, who was killed in the car crash that injured Tracy Morgan, are getting a US$10 million settlement from Wal-Mart, court papers show.

The documents also show that the children, Jamel McNair, 26, and Denita McNair, 19, are putting part of the payment towards annuities that will pay them ever-increasing monthly amounts, starting at US$3,000, for the rest of their lives.

The US$10 million figure was disclosed in documents filed in Surrogate's Court in New York's Westchester County, where James McNair lived until the June 7 accident when a Wal-Mart truck hit a limo van that was carrying him, Morgan, and others home from a show in Delaware.

Morgan, a former Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock star, suffered broken bones and what his lawyer, Benedict Morelli, said was a traumatic brain injury. Morelli said Friday that Morgan was "very pleased" that McNair's children were well-compensated and will be able to "lead a better life". McNair was a long-time friend of and mentor to Morgan.

Morelli added that Morgan has not fully recovered but is "working very hard to get better, physically, emotionally, and mentally". Morgan had hoped to attend the 40th anniversary show of Saturday Night Live last month, Morelli said, but was not well enough. Morgan still hasn't seen a segment in which his 30 Rock co-stars Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin paid tribute to him during the show, Morelli said.

"I think it's going to take him a while before he's emotionally and mentally ready to watch that," the attorney said. "He knows about it. He said to me, 'I couldn't watch it, but one day I will'."

Morgan and two others injured in the crash also have sued Wal-Mart. The truck driver, Kevin Roper, has been charged with death by auto and other offences but has not yet been indicted, said a spokesman for the prosecutor's office.

The McNair family lawyer. Daryl Zaslow, announced in January that Wal-Mart had settled with the children, but the amount was said to be confidential. However, he mentioned the US$10 million figure in court papers filed last month supporting his request, backed by the McNair children, for nearly US$3 million in legal fees. The US$10 million figure was first reported by dnainfo.com.

Wal-Mart spokesman Randy Hargrove said the company could not discuss the terms, "but we are glad to have reached an agreement. ... We deeply regret the loss of Mr McNair and we worked closely with his family to insure their well-being".