Man Falls After Receiving Spirit, Sues

Claims church liable for injuries sustained during healing service

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Man Falls After Receiving Spirit, Sues

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 here.

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)

Comments (1)

I'm Matt Lincoln and I dropped this lawsuit against my attorney's advise because of the false statements made by many people involved, the harassing posts and messages against myself and family, and mainly because I didn't want the church and it's pastors/members to be hurt financially, as my attorney felt he had a very good chance of winning. At first, all I ever asked for was for my medical bills from the procedures and operations that I've suffered through. It was my attorney who decided on the amount of the lawsuit, and it was based upon his vast, expert advice. I was surprised by the amount, but in reality it was based upon my inability to work or function in life as I used to, and also based upon the medical costs, and of course, his percentage of the award. So in retrospect, I don’t think that the $2.5M was out of order. I am at peace with my decision to drop the case, but I wish that my name had not been smeared the way it has been on the Internet. The other side made many false statements, and I have recorded interviews from members of that church to prove that false statements were made right from the start about my family and me. I just wanted to set the record straight. All I ever wanted was for the church's insurance company to pay my claim, and this incident has blown up ridiculously. Now, due to the broken vertebrae, smashed discs and other back damage, the operation, which involved screwing 2 titanium rods to several vertebrae and tailbone, has left me disabled and unable to sit for any length of time before I must lie in traction with heat. The enormous pain is 24/7. But I am thankful to be alive and have my loving family. Thank you for reading.