Plaintiff Loses After Lawyer Refuses to Wear Mask in Court

Plaintiff Loses After Lawyer Refuses to Wear Mask in Court
A file photograph of a judge's gavel. (AlexStar/iStock)
The Associated Press

NEW YORK—A woman lost her personal injury lawsuit after her lawyer refused to wear a mask in court and the judge threw out her case, which had been set for trial.

The New York Daily News reported Friday that Brooklyn Judge Lawrence Knipel tossed the case after attorney Howard Greenwald said he could not breathe wearing the mask in the newly reopened court.

“I want the record to reflect that I am speaking with great difficulty,” Greenwald, 68, told the judge. “I want to the record to reflect that I am sweating profusely from the effort.”

He said, “I just can’t do this,” according to the transcript.

“I don’t contest the rule,” he said. “I just am not physically able to comply with the rule to do my job as a lawyer.”

Knipel, who was hospitalized with COVID-19 last spring, insisted the lawyer comply with rules requiring masks in all state court buildings.

“Forget about my personal experience with COVID,“ the judge told the newspaper. ”We have over half a million dead in this country. We have protocols. The most important protocol is wearing a mask.”

The lawsuit focused on a 2017 car crash that fractured the woman’s leg.

Knipel told the newspaper the woman would have legal recourse to continue her litigation even though he dismissed the case.