Sometimes a Lawyer Needs to Think before He Sues!

I saw this in a Texas case recently. On November 23, 2009, a lawyer filed a property litigation alleging that his neighbor, a Church Cathedral was a private and public nuisance because they essentially operated church-sponsored services for homeless people. It seems that the complaining land owners objected to the Church providing homeless services nearby (such services included free meals and counseling).

Arguing the Church services (and their clients-homeless people) constituted a “private nuisance,” the plaintiffs (attorneys) described those who were served by the homeless center as “derelicts.”

One of the patrons of the services, a former navy officer, sued the attorneys for defamation, discriminatory practices, emotional distress, and mental anguish. In his colorful description of the attorneys, he claimed that they had a “twisted heart full of unwashed socks, with a soul full of gunk Grinch type rappie act(s).” He is seeking $2.4 million in actual and punitive damages and a published apology.

Bottom line– when you describe others in a pleading (court document), it may be better to describe the conditions, and not characterize the victims of homelessness as “derelict.”