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A rare non-lawsuit

fnl.jpgA Michigan lawyer, Ronald R. Gilbert, recently filed a notice of claim naming 18 potential defendants, over a high school football injury. During a scrimmage game between to high schools last August, Shykem Lawrence was injured and ended up paralyzed. Last month, Gilbert filed the notice of claim, which is not a lawsuit - rather, it’s something filed to preserve a plaintiff’s right to file a subsequent lawsuit against government entities. The notice of claim states any potential lawsuit would seek $10 million in damages, and indicated that the possible defendants would include both schools, football coaches and school administrators.

Interestingly, however, Skykem’s mother, Nita Lawrence, says she never gave the lawyer permission to file the paperwork. In fact, she actually fired him earlier last month, and has now taken a very surprising and commendable stance in this litigious society of ours:

“We didn’t say we were suing nobody,” Lawrence said. “All we wanted was the insurance company to pay for my son’s medical bills. That’s all we wanted. We don’t want no $10 million. We’re living fine. Whatever the insurance company doesn’t pay, Medicaid pays. We don’t need a lawsuit. Now we’ve got all these people against us and it’s not fair because it’s not true.”

On Monday, after Mrs. Lawrence made these comments, the lawyer said that he had no comment other than a request for the media to leave the Lawrence family alone and to say that “there is no lawsuit pending.” On Tuesday, however, he acknowledged that the family had, in fact, fired him and since hired a new attorney.

As Gilbert wasn’t really the family’s attorney any more at the time he filed the notice of claim, one wonders whether it’s even valid, since he didn’t really have the authority to be acting on the Lawrence’s behalf anymore. In any event, you have to respect the hell out of the Lawrence family’s position (which surely could change between now and when the statute of limitations runs out) to not use Shykem’s injuries as a chance for a big pay day.

Although I have to say that this would surely be a more appropriate lawsuit than many of the other junk that gets filed, as I find it hard to believe that insurance and Medicaid will really cover all of the enormous costs that come with dealing with paralysis.

(Hat tip to Overlawyered.)

| Comments (1)


It’s not a bad idea to file the notice of claim, just incase. Most states’ notice of claim statutes run between 30-180 days. In New York it’s 90. Once filed it always leaves the option to file suit open, if not they would have to get a waiver from the court to proceed with the action. Whether the notice is legal, probably, as long as it’s filed with the right person. States even allow, in rare cases, police reports or other official reports to act as a notice of claim. As for the lawyer filing with out the parents permission, sounds like a dick to me.