Payton & Associates, LLC
Commercial Litigation Attorneys
Miami, Florida

Legal malpractice case tied to football player's 1991 death

In 1991, during a college football game in Orlando, Florida, a defensive lineman was injured on the field. He was transported to a hospital, where it was determined that he had fractured his right leg in the incident. Just five days later the 20-year-old man suffered an embolism in connection to the injury, which led to his death. Now, the mother of this promising football player who died in the prime of his life has joined with his daughter to file a legal malpractice suit against the law firm originally hired to represent the family in the medical malpractice suit.

That suit was filed in 1983, but was eventually dismissed. Leading to the dismissal, the defendants in that suit filed four motions to dismiss due to inaction. When the young man's family asked the state Supreme Court to review that ruling, the Court denied that request.

The family claims that the individual attorney, as well the firm, are guilty of failing to adequately serve the legal needs of their client. They believe that these failings led to the dismissal of their case. The current legal malpractice suit asks for compensatory and punitive damages.

Florida attorneys have a duty to handle the cases of their clients with due care. That duty includes maintaining appropriate communication with all parties, keeping up with changes to the case, and following through on litigation once it is filed. In this case, the family asserts that their legal representative did not meet these standards, and instead caused their suit to be dismissed through inaction, which led them to file the current legal malpractice suit. The litigation will now make its way through the Florida civil court system to determine if sufficient evidence exists to rule that the original attorneys violated a duty of reasonable care to the family.

Source:, "Lawyers retained in athlete's '91 death face legal malpractice suit," Jimmie E. Gates, Sept. 6, 2012

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