Saturday, June 07, 2008

Man Falls After Receiving Spirit, Sues

Claims church liable for injuries sustained during healing service

JUNE 5--Last June, Matthew Lincoln was attending an evening service at his nondenominational Tennessee church when he approached the altar where a visiting minister was offering individual prayers for parishioners. Assigned "catchers" were present on the altar in case congregants fainted, fell, or otherwise lost control. When the minister, Robert Lavala, slightly touched his forehead, the Knoxville-area man "received the spirit and fell backwards." Except nobody was there to catch him, Lincoln charges in a $2.5 million lawsuit filed yesterday against Lakewind Church and its pastors. Lincoln, 58, claims that he fell backwards, striking his head against the "carpet-covered cement floor," according to the Circuit Court complaint, which was first reported by Courthouse News Service. A copy of Lincoln's lawsuit can be found below. Since he already suffered from a "degenerative disc disease of his neck and back," Lincoln, a former church board member, contends the fall exacerbated the pre-existing condition and has caused him "severe and permanent" injuries. As a result of the fall, Lincoln, a recording engineer, claims that he is no longer able to care for his disabled daughter. Lincoln alleges that Lakewind and its pastors were "negligent in not supervising the catchers to be sure that they stood behind the person being prayed for...should they have a dizzying, fainting, or falling in the spirit as had occurred on many occasions before." Lincoln's lawyer, J.D. Lee, told TSG that the church's insurer, Zurich of North America, rejected an insurance claim, asserting that Lincoln should have realized that no catchers were situated behind him. (5 pages)

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