SETTLEMENT : 20-year-old man paralyzed during football game at DeMolay meeting
In March 1984, the young Tony Gatelein, 20, was playing an impromptu game of tackle football when his life was changed forever.
Gatelein and others struck up the game at Torrance Park with members of the DeMolay International youth group. During the course of the game, a 16-year-old player tackled and struck Gatelein in what is described in the game’s rules as a “late hit.”
The blow broke Gatelein’s neck and caused irrecoverable physical damages. The young man was left paralyzed and his ability to sweat was compromised. This has restricted his body’s cooling system which forces him to largely remain indoors at his home.
Gatelein hired Torrance attorney Lawrence Booth of Booth & Koskoff to represent him in a lawsuit against the DeMolay International youth group. Gatelein’s injuries compelled the youth group to ban football games for all of its members across the world. Yet, the plaintiffs argued it came too little, too late.
“To allow people to play tackle football under these conditions where there is no referee, there are no rules and no way of stopping a play…is extremely dangerous,” Booth told reporters in a 1986 interview.
In the negligence lawsuit, Booth argued that De Molay group was negligent in allowing the game to be played without proper equipment or supervision. The group accepted this argument and settled with Gatelein two years after the incident, agreeing to pay $7.5 million over the course of Gatelein’s lifetime.
When I met with Roger, he was honest, genuine, and straight-forward on how we would proceed. Roger took a leap of faith when taking this case. He trusted what I said to be true, and wasn’t afraid to proceed.
– Cynthia Mitchell
“Mr. Booth did an incredible job resolving the case for us, and we are very thankful for the successful ending to our lawsuit. Thank you for your hard work Mr. Booth. You will always be our family lawyer and friend.”
– Sam Kirakosyan
“Because of Roger’s experience and professionalism, I was able to focus on the others things I needed to do for my brother to care for him during this time. He was a godsend, and I would highly recommend Roger and his staff.”
– Penny Vincelli
The lawyers and staff at Booth & Koskoff were efficient, thorough, helpful and always available, even on weekends. I am very pleased with my overall experience, and I would recommend Booth & Koskoff to anyone who needs an excellent attorney.
– Keith Schultz
My family experienced a tremendous loss as a result of my father’s death. During the entire process of investigation and settlement of our case, we were treated with the utmost professionalism by the Booth & Koskoff attorneys and staff.
– Dale Magner
“From the moment I contacted Booth & Koskoff from my hospital bed to the eventual settlement of my case, I experienced nothing but outstanding assistance and representation.”
– Claire Rexon
“We felt lucky like we were referred to Booth & Koskoff by someone we trusted. Richard’s professionalism and tenacity showed that he definitely was in our court.”
– John Mahoney