Connecticut lawyer Irving Pinsky filed a Newtown school shooting claim last week, the precursor to what he said would be a $100 million lawsuit. But now Pinsky has dropped his claim amid backlash and accusations of attempting to profit off the terrible tragedy.
While Pinsky represented a very sympathetic figure in the shootings -- a 6-year-old survivor who allegedly overheard the entire ordeal over the school's intercom system -- the lawyer went about the lawsuit all wrong, leading to the embarrassing rescission.
Pinsky can still refile his claim at a later date; however, for now, the lawyer will have to lick his wounds and think about his next steps. So if he had a chance for a do-over, what should Pinsky have done differently? Here are three lessons for lawyers:
- The timing of the claim. For Irving Pinsky to seek $100 million from the state, just weeks after the Sandy Hook tragedy, was misguided. The shooting was still very raw and in the minds of everyone. People were still learning about the young victims and their stories, as well as the teachers who lost their lives in the massacre. No one wanted to see a massive lawsuit filed against one of the victims (and yes, the school itself was a victim too).
- The amount of the claim. There is no doubt that a 6-year-old survivor of the tragedy would have suffered unimaginable psychological trauma. But the decision to request $100 million against the state -- the same entity that would need resources to protect school children -- was excessive. The lawsuit would not have gotten so much publicity (and outrage) had Pinsky requested a more modest sum.
- Publicity concerns. Though some lawyers may feel otherwise, it's generally not a good idea to seek publicity when bringing a lawsuit. I am not sure if Irving Pinsky actively sought fame for filing his claim, but his name was splashed across headlines nonetheless. In how many other lawsuits can you name the attorneys involved? If you're getting a lot of public attention as the attorney in a lawsuit, that's typically a bad sign. Keep your name out of the news if at all possible.
Irving Pinsky's lawsuit against the state of Connecticut may not be entirely dead, as he can always decide to refile his claim later. But looking back, the attorney may be wishing that he hadn't brought the claim in the first place, or at least had modified his strategy.
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