What does the “next friend” do, and when is it used?
Next Friend Is Not a Party to the Suit
The next friend’s name appears on a complaint or other legal document — sometimes followed by the designation “a/n/f” or “as next friend” — but the next friend is not a party to the lawsuit. Rather, the next friend merely acts on behalf of another party in bringing a lawsuit or during a legal proceeding.
The next friend may be referred to as the guardian ad litem, but the next friend is not a legal guardian. At the conclusion of the lawsuit in which he or she is appearing as next friend, the next friend’s duty ends. The next friend is not granted any additional rights to custody over the person for whom he is acting as next friend, nor does the role grant any right or control over that person’s property.
When Is the Next Friend Used?
An individual typically acts as next friend for a person who is unable to file or manage his or her own lawsuit. One common instance of the use of a next friend is in cases brought for the benefit of minor children, who generally aren’t permitted to bring lawsuits themselves. In these cases, the next friend is often a parent, although it can also be another person whose interests are not counter to the child’s.
The next friend may also be used for a person who has been declared incompetent or incapacitated. Often, these may be adults who are suffering from age-related dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Relatively recently, a potential $50 million class action lawsuit against the NCAA was filed on behalf of the lead plaintiff by his sister as next friend. That plaintiff — former University of Texas football player Julius Whittier — suffers from early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, which the lawsuit alleges was caused by repeated head injuries suffered during his time as a college football player.
If you or a loved one has been injured at the hands of another, please contact us at (678) 324-8511 or click here to schedule a consultation.