NEWS AND STORIES
Just Another Day At Legal Aid
Some of our cases make the evening news; sometimes you read about us in the "Atlanta Journal Constitution." Most days, you don't know what a legal aid attorney has done for someone in your community. These are a few of their stories:
Health Law Partnership
Matthew collapsed at home and had to be rushed to the hospital. He was diagnosed with Type I Juvenile Diabetes, and doctors told him and his mom that he would need frequent insulin injections to regulate his blood sugar. Matthew’s mom was very surprised when the school nurse refused to give him the necessary shots, and instead sent him home. She spent two months trying to figure out how to keep Matthew in school and also get him the injections he needed, and finally she contacted Legal Aid. We negotiated with the school, who agreed to appoint a nurse trained in insulin injections to administer his shots and also to provide after school tutoring so Matthew could make up the two months he had missed.
Legal Aid Staff Attorney Maggie Kinnear won an unemployment compensation case in the Georgia Court of Appeals on behalf of a school teacher who could not pass the teacher certification exam despite taking the exam eight times over the course of five years. The teacher was fired by the school system after five years solely because she could not pass the exam.
Ms. MB attempted to file a Temporary Protective Order (TPO) after her husband had beaten her only to find that her husband had outraced her to the courthouse and filed a TPO of his own, alleging that she had stolen his prescription drugs and was a dangerous and violent addict. He also filed an application for a criminal warrant against her alleging she had picked up his prescription drugs without authorization. Mr. B had been abusive to our client throughout their marriage and had always told her that, with the help of his lawyer, he could turn any allegation she might make against him around and make it seem that she was the abuser -- she was intimidated in this way to dismiss past TPO petitions that she had filed. Legal Aid Staff Attorney Erin Willoughby assisted Ms. MB in filing a counterpetition and represented her at an all-day hearing in which she won the TPO, custody and child support and her husband's petition was dismissed. Although Legal Aid does not do criminal defense work, Erin agreed to represent Ms. MB client at the criminal warrant application hearing, because it arose out of the same facts as the TPO and issuance of a warrant would have undone the result accomplished in the TPO. The judge dismissed the application.
Negligent Construction and Fraud
This case is a prime example of bull-dog determination overcoming seemingly insuperable obstacles to obtain an outstanding result. An impoverished African-American homeowner brought this case against a contractor and contracting company that rebuilt her home after a fire. They did terrible work and, after inducing her to front over $36,000 in funds and materials, quit working before the job was finished. ALAS Staff Attorney Nancy Rhinehart first filed the case in 2009, commenced discovery and filed for summary judgment after there was no answer or response to the request for admissions. A procedural error caused the case to be dismissed and Nancy had to re-file; she again got the parties served and they again failed to answer or respond to discovery. Nancy got a default judgment but ran into huge difficulties getting the hearing on damages scheduled because the clerk had marked the case as closed. A hearing on damages was finally scheduled in 2011, but client suffered a medical emergency in the middle of the hearing and had to be taken to Grady. Upon her recovery, the judge’s staff attorney simply would not reschedule the hearing; then that staff attorney left and the judge in the case was deployed overseas as part of his service in the Army Reserve. The hearing for damages was finally rescheduled with the Chief Judge and her expert into court to testify in January 2013.
The final result was a substantial judgment both in contract and fraud against the contractor and the company. Our client was awarded damages on her first breach of contract claim, negligent construction claim and her conversion claim totaling $83,845, plus $36,000 for her fraud claim. After assisting the client in getting a Fi Fa issued, Nancy was able to refer the case to the Atlanta Volunteer Lawyer's Foundation's Dollars for Judgments Project and the law firm of Bodker, Ramsey, Andrews, Winograd & Wildstein will be pursuing collection. Nancy never gave in and never gave up when most others would have, and so got this outstanding result.
The site is still live and we can accept donations for this campaign until December 31st. Gifts don’t have to be big; every gift counts and makes a difference!
As always, our pledge is to honor your trust and use your donations with care and purpose: 90% of our funds are spent on direct services.
2013 Run For Justice
We're still thinking of words to describe the tremendous outpouring of support at this year's Run For Justice! It was the biggest crowd ever running in the beautiful Oakhurst neighborhood on a perfect fall day.
Our Leader, Steve Gottlieb, said, "This is always a fun day for all of us, and this year it was a fun day for more people than ever before. In fact, that's probably the reason I didn't win this year. I was talking to so many people. . . .
"But seriously, thanks to everyone for the wonderful support. Thanks to the Daily Report, which has gone above and beyond to make our Run For Justice such a big event in the legal community. Thanks to the volunteers and the sponsors and the runners who make it happen every year. We do not take your generosity lightly. "
. . . that Legal Aid serves Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton and Gwinnett counties? Nearly 23,000 of your neighbors were helped in a wide variety of legal matters last year.
. . . that a Legal Aid lawyer works onsite at each of the three Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta campuses, helping families with sick children worry a little bit less about things like access to healthcare, housing, education and medication?
. . . that 2014 will mark the 15th anniversary of our landmark U.S. Supreme Court victory, Olmstead vs. E.W. and L.C.? The case guaranteed mentally and physically disabled people access to appropriate community placement and impacted countless individuals across the country? Legal Aid attorneys and staff continue to work on the enforcement in Georgia of this historic decision.
. . . that based on the 2011 budget, the average cost of helping one client is only $375?
. . . that as a direct response to client need, Atlanta Legal Aid has developed and sustained nearly a dozen special projects that focus on issues as diverse as the rights of the mentally ill, seniors’ issues and relative caregiver adoption?
. . . that Atlanta Legal Aid was founded by private attorneys in 1924 who saw a need for a strong poverty law firm to help World War I veterans and others to solve consumer issues and family law problems? The private bar has always been the cornerstone of Legal Aid’s success. In 2014, Legal Aid will celebrate its 90th anniversary of service to the people of the metro area.
. . . that Legal Aid lawyers helped the elderly and disabled obtain over $4 million in skilled nursing and personal care in 2012?
. . . that Legal Aid lawyers helped parents obtain nearly $1.4 million in child support in 2012?
. . . that 90% of our funds are spent on direct services, funding our staff of lawyers, paralegals and other advocates?