By Rob Abruzzese
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
On Tuesday, a permanent plaque was dedicated to Hon. Nathan R. Sobel and the Kings County American Inn of Court in the Brooklyn Bar Association building at 123 Remsen Street, and Hon. Randall T. Eng was named as a honorary member of the foundation.
“Judge Eng dedicated a plaque which signified the founding of this Inn, which is named for Judge Nathan R. Sobel,” Hon. Barry Kamins said. “So the plaque is now up on the wall, and it tells the world that this Inn was named for Nathan R. Sobel, and tells little about him.”
Kamins also explained that despite the fact that Eng is not technically a member of The Inn of Court, the local chapter considers him one and felt that the honorary title was fitting.
“His busy schedule has kept him from being in our group,” Kamins explained. “We feel that as a presiding judge of the second department, he's part of our group, part of our family, even though he’s not in it. We made him an honorary member to reflect that.”
Founding judges of the Nathan R. Sobel-Kings County chapter, Hon. Marsha L. Steinhardt, Hon. Edward M. Rappaport, and Hon. Gerard H. Rosenberg, were on hand to unveil the plaque, which will forever sit just to the right of the stage in the Bar Association.
“It is such an honor to be named a member of the Inn of Court, and I am extremely proud to be able to dedicate this plaque next to the picture of Judge Sobel,” Judge Eng said.
As part of the meeting, malpractice attorneys Michael Fischbein and Paul Weitz, from Paul B. Weitz & Associates, PC, gave a presentation called, “When is a dismissal not a dismissal”.
Along with Judge Kamins, Sara Gozo, Susan Master, Susan Iannelli, John Klein, and Maria Morano, Weitz and Fischbein discussed and performed reenactments involving a recent malpractice case: Cadichon v. Facelle.
This case arose when the Cadichons commenced a medical malpractice suit against Mrs. Cadichon's doctor Mr. Thomas Facelle and the treating hospital(s) for injuries allegedly sustained by Mrs. Cadichon during surgery in July 2002. In 2007, a lower court concluded that it was apparent from the record that neither plaintiffs nor defendants acted with expediency in moving the case forward and dismissed the case with no notification to either party and without the entry of any formal order by the court dismissing the matter. The New York Court of Appeals found that when a case proceeded to the point where it was subject to dismissal, it should be the trial court, with notice to the parties, that should make the decision concerning the fate of the case, not the clerk's office. The Court of Appeals reversed the dismissal and reinstated Cadichon’s complaint. The case is being heard in a Bronx trial court.
“What finally got the courts to overturn the decision was because there was never a judge on the record giving a reason for dismissal,” Weitz said of the case.
“It's a precedent-setting case because the court said that a computer or clerk can't dismiss a case; it has to be done by a judge,” Kamins explained. “A computer can't dismiss a case until lawyer can go in front of a judge and had an opportunity to argue it.”
The case has also become a wakeup call for Weitz and Fischbein. They are now quick to tell their story to help other lawyers avoid the same traps that hindered them.
“We wanted to warn other lawyers to take important deadlines seriously,” Weitz said. “A lot of times, as lawyers, we try to accommodate the other side because we are taught to do that. But if you do it under the wrong circumstances there can be disastrous consequences. So you really have to pick your spots.
“If there is a court order that threatens dismissal, you can't be accommodating. You have to say no. We were very lucky that we got the case restored. In the end, justice was done.”