Stella Case No. 044, Originally Published: 23 April 2003
Daniel Allen, 11 years old and 90 pounds, was running to catch the school bus home when he ran into a teacher, Eileen Blau. He really did run into her: they collided in the hallway at E.T. Hamilton Elementary School in Voorhees, N.J.
The next day, Daniel was called to the principal’s office and told Blau was injured in the collision. He cried and apologized to the teacher.
All better, then? No: two years later, Blau sued the boy in New Jersey Superior Court, claiming he “negligently and carelessly” ran into her at an “excessive rate of speed,” which caused “severe and multiple injuries, some of which are permanent in nature.”
Daniel’s mother, Stacy Allen, says “Maybe he should not have been running in the hall, but I think it was an accident. When you send a kid off to school, you expect him to be supervised and taken care of. You never expect a teacher to sue a child for running into her.” Worse, she says, the boy is quite upset over being sued. “He didn’t understand why someone would want to do this to him. He said ‘Why does she hate me? Why is she doing this? I said I was sorry.’”
Obviously, “sorry” doesn’t always cut it, but when people are injured at work they’re 100 percent covered for their injuries by Worker’s Compensation insurance. If the boy was truly out of control, whose fault is it? Maybe the people who are paid to instruct and supervise the child, such as Ms Blau?
- “Teacher Sues Student over Hall Collision,” Cherry Hill Courier-Post, 29 March 2003
Blau filed a claim on the Allen family’s homeowner’s insurance, and the company apparently refused to settle. Apparently, that’s why it then proceeded to a lawsuit. Stacy Allen, the mother, didn’t tell the boy about the claim so as to not upset him. But when a sheriff’s deputy arrived at their home to serve a summons, the deputy apologized for serving a summons on a 13-year-old with “a chagrined look on his face,” so then she had to tell him.
I didn’t find any status on the suit, but it’s quite likely the Allen’s homeowner’s insurance paid a settlement to make it go away.
After this page was published, a reader pointed out some court proceedings regarding Stacy Allen of Voorhees, who is or was married to someone named Daniel Allen (making the boy a Jr?), involved in other court actions that make it clear the Allen family is worth millions, in part from a settlement in a lawsuit over investments.
If it’s the same family (and I couldn’t definitely establish that it is), then it’s quite possible Ms Blau’s attorney sniffed out deep pockets in the case, which helps explain the lawsuit. One reason I’m not sure if it’s the same family: multi-millionaires who have a history of being involved in litigation don’t need to “decide” whether to get a lawyer: they usually have several, and consult them quickly when there they learn of any significant risk to their fortunes.
“Stacy Allen” is probably a pretty common name, and it’s entirely possible that there could be two with that name, completely unrelated to each other, even in a town of around 29,000.
My 2020 Thoughts on the Case
The final line of the source article noted, “A trial date has not yet been set. Stacy Allen said the family is still deciding on whether to get a lawyer.” For the record, if sued then hell yes you should get a lawyer! (OK, “it depends” if it’s a small claims action.) The other side has one, and someone who has to face down a lawyer out for blood money needs someone knowledgeable on their side. Hell, even lawyers generally hire lawyers when sued!
Susan, a lawyer in Florida: “I was in private practice for a few years but it didn’t last, perhaps partly because I didn’t — and still don’t — believe in bringing frivolous lawsuits. I currently practice in the area of criminal appeals on behalf of the state. Lawyers who file and pursue the kind of lawsuits you report on deserve all the negative publicity they get. If [the American Trial Lawyers Association] believes that any of the stories you are disseminating are false, then they should take all appropriate steps to correct the record. But I certainly hope that what you are doing is NOT harmless to trial lawyers, but that it causes the bar to think twice about bringing garbage lawsuits, the bench to throw out such ridiculous cases, and the members of the public who serve on juries to deny any ‘relief’ to the fools, jerks, and lowlifes who file such lawsuits. And I don’t think that any criminal or anyone in his/her family is entitled to any damages whatsoever when he/she is injured or killed in the course of perpetrating a felony. Please keep up the good work, and may your readership grow exponentially, and may all of your readers practice what you preach.”
The statistic in my editorial also brought mail.
Gary in New York: “I find the 2.33% of the GDP number staggering, and hearing it makes the True Stella Awards that much more relevant. I wish everyone in this country was reading TSA, but especially legislators at every level of government. To me, the most frustrating part of the lawsuit problem is the rampant unwillingness to take responsibility for one’s own actions. I’ve personally seen the effects of this: I used to regularly enjoy mountain biking on a tract of private land. The trails were popular and fairly heavily used for years. Then a couple years ago, a rider injured himself and sued the land owner. I don’t even know the outcome of the case, but I’m sure I don’t need to tell you the result on public access to those trails. I’d love to meet that plaintiff and personally thank him for ruining a great recreational opportunity for hundreds of people like me just because he felt like falling on his head had to be someone else’s fault. I’ve fallen numerous times while mountain biking, skiing, skating, climbing and hiking, but strangely I’ve never once considered suing anyone! Keep up the good fight. Knowledge is the best weapon.”
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