Lagrange, GA asked in Adoption, Civil Rights, Elder Law and Criminal Law for Georgia

Q: Can you sue the poor? How do you prove emotional trauma?

I’m a 20 yr old adult looking to sue my biological family for manipulating and controlling my adoptive mother along with the emotional trauma they have caused. It’s gotten to the point where her marriage is in danger and she often chooses my biological family over us. They’ve become so manipulative to the point to where my mom has become 100% emotionally dependent on them along with serving a spiritual purpose towards them. We have spent thousands of dollars amounts my family which we don’t plan getting back to soon as they are apart of the lower class although, they have a reputation for being selfish with themselves. I want to know if this is the right thing to do and if it will give all of us the chance for them to leave us alone for good. But I’m willing to take this step to get my life back. I do have several witnesses however, I understand it’s a little difficult to prove emotional trauma without physical proof but I’m very confident that a case like this will fall through.

1 Lawyer Answer
Nelson Craig Johnson
Nelson Craig Johnson
  • Birmingham, AL
  • Licensed in Georgia

A: There is a lot to unpack in this question. First, you are not able to bring a lawsuit on behalf of another unless they are a minor over which you have custody, or they are incompetent to bring a suit on their own for some other reason and you are the guardian, custodian, or have a power of attorney over them. I assume based on the way your question is written neither of those scenarios would apply to your adoptive mother. Therefore, you would not be able to bring a claim against your biological family on your adoptive mother's behalf.

For arguments sake I want to try to unpack what your mothers claim or your claim would be. You haven't given any description about the type of harassing behaviors, but assuming they are just your standard yelling, cussing, constant communications even after a request to stop, threats of physical harm, or threats to expose some private detail, you may have a claim for the intentional infliction of emotion distress or negligent infliction of emotional distress. Those type claims are difficult to win and are not often successful. Even if you do win, if the individuals sued are judgment proof, have no money to repay the judgment you get against them, your only option to recover would be to record the judgment as a lien on property (which costs money to record and release once satisfied) or file for a wage/bank garnishment (which will cost money).

What is likely the better solution is to get a restraining order or protection from abuse order by presenting the evidence you have to the police/court. Once you have one of those two items a violation of the order would result in criminal penalties such as jail time or fines.

For more tailored advice you should seek out a consultation with an attorney in Georgia and allow him to view the evidence you have compiled. He may be able to give you more specific instructions and guide you to the best option to achieve your goals.

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