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Jefferson v. Ferrer

United States District Court, Middle District of Tennessee, Nashville

February 27, 2015

SAMUEL JEFFERSON, Plaintiff
v.
FERRER, POIROT & WANSBROUGH, et al., Defendants

HONORABLE KEVIN H. SHARP

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

JOHN S. BRYANT UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

Defendants Ferrer, Poirot and Wansbrough and Matt Daniel have filed their First Amended Motion for Summary Judgment (Docket Entry No. 333). Plaintiff Jefferson has not responded in opposition.

For the reasons stated below, the undersigned Magistrate Judge recommends that these Defendants’ motion for summary judgment be granted and the complaint dismissed.

STATEMENT OF THE CASE

Plaintiff Jefferson, who is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, has filed this action alleging legal wrongdoing by his former lawyers in the course of the settlement of Jefferson’s claims in an earlier pharmaceutical product liability lawsuit against Defendant Eli Lilly & Company (“Lilly”). Jefferson asserts causes of action against these Defendants for violation of his Fourteenth Amendment rights to due process, negligence and fraud. Jefferson seeks money damages.

These Defendants have filed their motion for summary judgment.

STATEMENT OF UNDISPUTED FACTS

It appears from the record in this case and in other cases[1] filed by Jefferson arising out of the same body of operative facts that it is undisputed that Defendant Ferrer, Poirot & Wansbrough, a Dallas, Texas, law firm and Defendant Matt Daniel, a lawyer in this firm, represented Jefferson as a plaintiff in an earlier product liability action brought against Lilly based upon Zyprexa, an antipsychotic drug sold by Lilly. This earlier action was included in a multidistrict litigation proceeding in a federal district court in New York.[2]

As part of the settlement of this earlier case, Jefferson on October 16, 2007, signed a confidential release of all claims (Docket Entry No. 248-1 at 2-10). Later, on February 26, 2008, Jefferson signed his mother’s name to a document entitled “Zyprexa Settlement Award Acknowledgment Form” and a disbursement statement acknowledging the amount of his portion of the MDL settlement (Docket Entry 327-4 at 2-3). Plaintiff Jefferson admits that he received a total settlement amount of approximately $28, 000, of which he paid his lawyers approximately $11, 000 (Docket Entry No. 250 at 32-33). Of the remaining approximately $17, 000 that Jefferson received, he states that he gave all but $200 to his immediate relatives (Id.).

Jefferson in this present action claims that due to his mental illness at the time, he was legally incompetent to sign a binding agreement to settle his product claim against Lilly, and that the Defendants, in the exercise of reasonable diligence, should have known that his execution of the settlement documents was legally invalid due to his mental incompetence.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

A party may obtain summary judgment by showing “that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a); Covington v. Knox County School Sys., 205 F.3d 912, 914 (6th Cir. 2000). The moving party bears the initial burden of satisfying the court that the standards of Rule 56 have been met. See Martin v. Kelley, 803 F.2d 236, 239 n.4 (6th Cir. 1986). The ultimate question to be addressed is whether there exists any genuine dispute of material fact. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986); Covington, 205 F.3d at 914 (citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986)). If so, summary judgment is inappropriate.

To defeat a properly supported motion for summary judgment, the nonmoving party must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue of material fact for trial. If the party does not so respond, summary judgment will be entered if appropriate. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e). The nonmoving party’s burden of providing specific facts demonstrating that there remains a genuine issue of material fact for trial is triggered once the moving party shows an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party’s case. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325. A genuine issue of material fact exists “if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the Court must ...


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