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Pro se plaintiff in fraud case given go-ahead by Justice Pfau

Hon. Ann Pfau, J.S.C. Eagle file photo

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

People who choose to represent themselves in court are often faced with a myriad of challenges. 

Not understanding the nuances of the law and failing to grasp the art of writing a brief or the basics of courtroom procedure are just a few. Often, these deficiencies are what halts a case before it is fully adjudicated.  

This would have been the fate of a Coney Island man’s lawsuit if not for Acting Supreme Court Justice Ann Pfau.

Arnold Kristalinsky, an elderly man, filed a complaint against a Coney Island physician and two others in an alleged insurance fraud and identity theft scheme. Representing himself, Kirstalinsky claimed that after seeing a notice, in the office of Dr. Zalman Starosta, for a charity that would pay qualifying elderly Jewish people up to $10,000 if they were in good health, he applied for the program after Starostoa vouched for it.

In his complaint, Kristalinsky states that he soon received paperwork from the Bank of Utah regarding a $5 million life insurance policy taken out on Kristalinsky and a $278,611.90 loan taken out against the policy.  

In these documents, Ira Einhorn is listed as a trustee and Galina Leykina is identified as Kristalinsky’s daughter and the beneficiary of the life insurance policy.

Kristalinsky asserts that he does not have a daughter and does not know anyone by the name of Ira Einhorn.

Filing a suit against all parties involved, Kristalinsky accused Starosta of fraudulent inducement and accused the physician, Einhorn and Leykina of identity theft and conspiracy.  

Leykina, represented by Brooklyn attorney Eli Fixler, moved to dismiss the lawsuit on the grounds that Kristalinsky failed to state an actual case.

Pfau recognized that Kristalinsky’s original complaint, done as a pro se litigant, may have been “inartfully drawn.”  This however, did not take away from the validity of Kristalinsky’s claims.  

“The complaint is clearly not frivolous,” Pfau ruled.

Pfau noted that Kristalinsky was able to identify “the complained of events, relevant dates, locations, and individuals allegedly involved.”

Peter Bark of the Brooklyn law firm Bark & Karpf told the New York Law Journal that the defendants “put a $5 million price on my client's head. He had no idea there was an insurance policy until inadvertently a bank in Utah sent him some paperwork. We have no idea who Ira Einhorn is, or if he even exists, and we have no idea who Galina Leykina is."

Bark has referred the case to the Kings County District Attorney’s Office.

January 31, 2013 - 4:00pm


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