Editor’s note; The following is a letter from St. Louis attorney James W. Schottel Jr. to Gov. Eric Greitens that Schottel also sent to Missouri Lawyers Weekly for publication.
Grietens has not responded as of press time to Schottel.
January 26, 2017
To: Governor Eric Greitens
From: James W. Schottel Jr., Esq.
RE: Tort Reform & Trial Lawyers
Dear Governor Greitens:
I listened to your State of the State address and there are serious concerns I wanted to share with you, not only as a citizen of this great State of Missouri, but as a trial lawyer. My concerns are regarding your statements and positions with respect to “Tort Reform” and “Trial Lawyers.”
Please take notice that I am not a member of either major political party, Democrat or Republican. Although I am a 44-year old trial lawyer operating my own practice since May of 2000, just 6 months after receiving my law license, I was previously the client of a trial lawyer.
On March 2, 1991, I was an 18-year-old college freshman on a football scholarship and I was a victim of a fraternity hazing incident. I am now a quadriplegic; I suffered a fractured neck at C5- 6, a bruised spinal cord and I was immediately paralyzed from the neck down. I could not breathe or eat on my own, could move no part of my body and could only speak. I was hospitalized for 5 months to rehabilitate. I regained moderate use of arms but my legs would not move again and I have been wheelchair-bound ever since.
On that date, my promising football career was over and my life, as I had known it, would change forever.
Just 6 months after my injury, at the age of 19, I hired Andrew Mandel and John Schlueter of Schlueter, Mandel & Mandel, nlk/a Mandel & Mandel, LLP. After a few years of hard fought litigation, my trial lawyers reached a settlement on my claims.
That settlement would help me survive in my changed world of needing medical equipment, medical supplies, treatment from several different doctors and periodic hospital visits and surgeries. The settlement also helped me return to school after completing only one semester of college before being paralyzed.
Despite dealing with my new life as a quadriplegic, I returned to college at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, just 18 months removed from my injury on March 2, 1991. I received my bachelor’s degree in mathematics. After going through the legal process I did as a young man, I wanted to help those injured like me because it was such a critical part of my life.
Thereafter, I was accepted into Saint Louis University School of Law and received my juris doctor in 1999.
As a long-time trial lawyer, I help those who have been injured by others’ negligence and recklessness. I can speak to you from a professional standpoint and a personal standpoint that your agenda of “Tort Reform” and saying the ‘time is up’ for trial lawyers will be tremendously detrimental to the people injured in our great State of Missouri, including the many people who voted for you in your quest for the position of Governor.
Not only do I see and assist our great system work for injured people, I lived it. I ask that you please reconsider your positions. I would be most happy to visit with you in person and discuss these important issues.