A woman in New York had her lawsuit tossed out by the judge after her lawyer refused to wear a face mask, the New York Daily News reported.
Brooklyn Judge Lawrence Knipel dismissed plaintiff Sharmaine Gedell’s personal injury case, which had been set for trial Thursday after her attorney Howard Greenwald said he was “speaking with great difficulty” while wearing a face covering, according to a report from the New York Daily News. (RELATED: The University Of Florida Suspends Multiple Conservative Groups For Allegedly Violating COVID-19 Rules)
Brooklyn judge dismiss lawsuit that was about to go to trial after lawyer on case said he would be unable to proceed while wearing face mask, the Daily News has learned.https://t.co/omlzKHXYID
— New York Daily News (@NYDailyNews) March 26, 2021
“I can’t breathe,” Greenwald, 68, told Knipel according to court transcripts obtained by the New York Daily News. “I became light-headed. I had to sit down … I don’t contest the rule. I just am not physically able to comply with the rule to do my job as a lawyer.”
Knipel, 68, was hospitalized last spring after contracting COVID-19 in late March. Three New York judges died from the virus around the same time last year, including two Brooklyn Supreme Court judges.
Other options were presented to Greenwald by Knipel, including having him call in another lawyer from his firm to stand in his place or moving into a smaller courtroom where he would not have to speak as loudly to be heard clearly, the New York Daily News reported.
Greenwald rejected the options and said he couldn’t continue with a mask on, giving Knipel no other choice but to dismiss the case.
“I say safety first,” Knipel told the newspaper in a phone call Friday. “Forget about my personal experience with COVID. We have over half a million dead in this country. We have protocols. The most important protocol is wearing a mask.”
Gedell’s case dealt with a 2017 car crash that left her leg fractured, according to Greenwald’s law firm Chopra & Nocerino, LLP, the New York Daily News reported. The trial was to determine how much the defendants in the case owed Gedell, as they had previously admitted liability in the crash.
Knipel stated Gedell could still have legal recourse to proceed with her litigation even though he dismissed the case, according to the newspaper.