In Bravo v. Aker, the supreme court held that a next friend cannot represent a presumedly incompetent individual without counsel. Almost 20 years before the present litigation concerning a personal injury claim, appellant Helen Bravo was hurt in a boating accident. Bravo claimed this accident – which was allegedly due to appellees’ conduct – caused her daughter’s attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, rendering her incompetent. The Bravos – daughter Ashley and mother Helen as next friend – retained Jeffrey Barber as council. Because Barber believed Helen’s insistence on trial strategy was against the best interest of Ashley, Barber successfully received a motion to withdraw from the superior court due to a conflict of interest among his clients. Upon the trial court’s granting of the appellees’ unopposed motion for summary judgement, the counsel-less Bravos appealed. The supreme court held that it could not rule on appellants’ appeal because Ashley Bravo required counsel, which could not be her next friend Helen. Turning to precedent and Alaska Civil Rule 17(c), the supreme court held that “a next friend cannot generally represent a minor [here an incompetent 20-year-old], even as a plaintiff, without counsel.” Because Ashley did not have an attorney representing her, the supreme court held that the superior court must have either (1) ordered a competency evaluation to determine if Ashley was in fact competent and would not be required to obtain an attorney as counsel, or (2) not have ruled on appellees’ summary judgment motion without providing Ashley counsel. Reversing the superior court, the supreme court held that the trial court has a duty to protect incompetent litigants who are unable to represent themselves, are unable to be represented by next friends who are not attorneys, and must be provided a guardian ad litem or other proper legal representation.
 435 P.3d 908 (Alaska 2019).