I took you in, and your family sued me

by Walter Olson on February 16, 2011

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “The parents of a man fatally stabbed at the New Life Evangelistic Center homeless shelter in 2008 have filed wrongful death lawsuits against the center, saying the center did not provide adequate security.” Jeremy Dunlap was 21 years old when he was stabbed at the center by Robert Gamble, another homeless man who was convicted of murder. “We are saddened that the family would claim that we were negligent,” a church assistant said. “We are in the business of trying to help people that nobody else will help.”

{ 9 comments }

1 kimsch 02.16.11 at 2:48 am

Maybe if the guy’s parents had given him a place to live, he wouldn’t have been in the homeless shelter. They’re family.

2 Mannie 02.16.11 at 9:11 am

Throw the bums out on the street.

3 No Name Guy 02.16.11 at 12:16 pm

Sadly Mannie, that is EXACTLY what the result will be.

Effin lawyers insure no good deed, in this case sheltering the homeless, will go unpunished.

4 smurfy 02.16.11 at 1:19 pm

I’m with you kimsch. I would consider myself negligent if my son ended up homeless, or my daughter ended up on the pole. Unfortunately that little bit of parental arrogance probably just jinxed me and ensured one of those two results. sorry kids.

5 mojo 02.16.11 at 2:05 pm

“Good Samaritan Mugged, Film at 11:00″

6 OldNaugaHerder 02.16.11 at 4:42 pm

“We are in the business of …..” just qualified you as a target in many lawyers’ eyes. Sad, isn’t it?

7 wfjag 02.16.11 at 6:24 pm

The “New Life Evangelistic Center homeless shelter ” should assert the most effective defense known:
1. We don’t have any insurance that covers this type of liability; &
2. Our only asset, the building, is mortgaged to the hilt and any judgment creditor would have to first pay off the mortgages to acquire title to a building that is financially “under water,” and then clean up any enviromental hazards, before trying to sell it.

8 roth 02.16.11 at 9:49 pm

I’ve been litigating 25+ years, mostly on the tort defense side and wfjagis is right on the money. At least until the trial lawyers get the legislature to pass a law mandating that all not for profit homeless shelters have liability insurance.

9 wfjag 02.18.11 at 10:01 am

Thanks for the kind words, Roth. And, yes, I’ve used it. In one case, a pro bono client wanted to open a soup kitchen at an old gas station site. I figured that the USTs were still in the ground and had probably leaked gas, and had them acquire the land and operate as a separate corp. Sure enough, someone slipped and fell and sued. The attorney publicly recorded his lien right to secure his fee. They won, and recorded the judgment and attorney’s lien. About that time, the enviro regulators showed up and found the USTs in the ground and gas contaminating ground water (at a depth of less than 20 feet — no one was drinking it or pumping it out for anything, city water was available and better and cheaper) and ordered the “owners” to remediate. The bank’s mortgage did not count as a “owner” who could be required to pay for clean up – but, the judgment and attorney’s lien did qualify as ownership interests. Guess who had to pay to do the clean up? Then the bank foreclosed, and the judgment creditor and attorney had to pay it off to not have their interest expunged. They then had to sell the property — at sheriff’s sale (due to now having financial problems from all the costs incurred). My client, with a new corporation, bought it at 70% of what it had originally owed, with the same bank providing the loan and taking a mortgage, and re-opened its soup kitchen — and still no CGL policy. The reduced loan payments made it much easier for the “new owner” charitable corp to raise enough donations each month to pay the note.

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