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George "The Gipper" Gipp lawsuit clarification

The following is an email I received about my recent blog post, Michigan Court tells Gipp relatives they can't "Win one for the Gipper."
"I read your recent blog on the internet about the George Gipp DNA court fight.
George Gipp

I was one of the 8 defendants in the Gipp lawsuit you wrote about. Your story was very balanced, however, I need to correct 2 of your facts.

One, ESPN was invited there to document this as a news story for both ESPN and ABC-TV. There were only 3 cameras there -- not 8 as you note in your story. Because this was such a unique story, the Gipp family felt it was important to invite a very credible news organization to document what was happening.

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Michigan Court tells Gipp relatives they can't "Win one for the Gipper."

As a Michigan probate litigation attorney, I have been involved in my share of strange cases (like one involving funeral home imposters stealing a body from a hospital morgue).  This one is right up there.  In October 2007, family members gave permission for the body of the famed Notre Dame football player George Gipp ("the Gipper") to be dug up for DNA testing to determine if he had unacknowledged heirs.  George GippSpecifically, Bette Bright Weeks was born 5 days after Gipp died and Gipp's family members granted permission to determine if Weeks' daughters were actually Gipp's granddaughters.

Gipp died in 1920 at age 25, from pneumonia and strep throat.  His Coach, Knute Rockne, used his death in a famous locker room speech, and the "win one for the Gipper" phrase gained widespread popularity when used by Ronald Reagan (who had played Gipp in a movie) in his presidential campaign. 

Two distant cousins of George Gipp, Karl and Ronald Gipp, filed the lawsuit hoping to win back some dignity for Gipp, they claimed, because they were apparently aghast at the way the body was dug up.  They claim it was done with a backhoe, not shovels, and the resulting carelessness was destructive and even dug up Gipp's sister (buried next to his body) by mistake.  They were especially bothered by the fact that ESPN was invited to film the whole thing -- with eight film cameras, they claim.

Continue reading "Michigan Court tells Gipp relatives they can't "Win one for the Gipper."" »