Mom: I never authorized lawyer to sue school over football injury

by Walter Olson on May 3, 2007

Curious doings in Camden, N.J.:

Nita Lawrence, whose son Shykem was paralyzed in a scrimmage football game between Woodrow Wilson and Eastern Regional high schools on Aug. 25, said Monday she never gave a Michigan lawyer authorization to file paperwork naming both high schools in a potential $10 million lawsuit.

In fact, Lawrence said she fired [Ronald R.] Gilbert in early March after he tried to receive advance payment from Bollinger Insurance, the company that provides coverage for student athletes in the Camden School District.

“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.”

A $10 million notice of claim dated Mar. 20 names 18 people, including football coaches, principals and superintendents, as possible defendants. (Chuck Gormley, “Mom: No suit authorized over son’s injury”, Camden Courier-Post, May 1; “Michigan lawyer confirms he’s off Lawrence case”, May 2).

Further information on Fenton, Michigan attorney Ronald R. Gilbert can be found here. Gilbert appears to be the guiding spirit behind two seemingly philanthropic outfits, the Foundation for Spinal Cord Injury Prevention, Care & Cure and the Foundation for Aquatic Injury Prevention. Visitors to the two groups’ websites rather quickly run into discussions of liability and legal options which would seem helpful, no doubt unintentionally, to attorney Gilbert’s client intake efforts.

{ 1 comment }

1 E-Bell 05.03.07 at 2:31 pm

It’s characters like this guy who are the reason that we no longer have diving boards or starting blocks at many aquatic facilities.

That said, probably the most effective way to get an insurer to pay up is to sue the insured. While the family may not have wished to sue anyone, I can see how he might have taken the action on his own to further their interests.

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