We have had a couple of accident cases involving the Jewish religious court, the Beth Din.
The Beth Din is a voluntary Jewish religious court in an orthodox Jewish community. Generally, it consists of three men who rule on a dispute between members of the community. The Beth Din is a voluntary court within a community, and it does not have the same recognition as the regular, civil courts. In other words, the parties to a Beth Din ruling can only be bound by the ruling if they so agree. Such agreement is not necessary in the state courts.
In one case our client was visiting a friend’s synagogue which was located in a converted one family home. He asked for the coat closet, and he was pointed to a door. The client opened the door, and fell down the stairs to the basement. The top of the landing was used for hanging coats. This was dangerous along with the lack of lighting.
In this case the client was summoned to a Beth Din in Brooklyn. The synagogue sought the client to drop his case because it feared that he would seek damages in excess of the insurance limits. The synagogue was also concerned that its premiums would increase. The client successfully convinced the Beth Din that he did not seek to recover in excess of the insurance coverage. The Beth Din allowed the client to proceed with his case.
In another case a Rockland County Beth Din did not allow the client to proceed. The defendant, a private property owner, argued that he would not be covered for the claim by reason of not disclosing all of the facts to his insurance carrier. We argued that the insurance company had not yet taken a position and that to make the client drop his case would be a double wrong to the client. Unfortunately, the Beth Din agreed with the property owner, and the client dropped his case.
If you have been summoned to the Beth Din in connection with your accident case, you should discuss this with your lawyer. If you have any questions, please feel free to call us at 800-581-1434.
Mark E. Seitelman, 10/12/08, www.seitelman.com.