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May 26, 2005 - Image 14

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2005-05-26

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Professional Irony

Weinstein family relative's legal expertise
is representing victims of drunk drivers.


Special to the Jewish News


ttorney Barry LaKritz prides
himself on advocating for his
clients as if they were mem-
bers of his own family.
But if the Bloomfield Hills litigator
is asked to take legal action on behalf
of Gary Weinstein, whose wife, Judy,
was killed along with their two sons,
Alex, 12, and Sam, 9, on May 3 by a
motorist police say was intoxicated —
this standard will take on new, literal
LaKritz has known the Weinstein
family since he married Gary's first
cousin, Cheryl, 36 years ago. Gary and

Cheryl's late fathers, Fred
and Hyman Weinstein,
respectively, were brothers.
Ironically, LaKritz, who
has a private practice, spe-
cializes in cases involving
dramshop law, which
addresses the liability of bars
or restaurants that serve
alcohol to a person who is
visibly intoxicated and who
causes the death or injury of
someone else.
"It is ironic that I'm a
member of the family and
that my specialty is so very much on
point," La Kritz said. "I feel good
about helping Gary, I feel energized.
We will leave no stone unturned in
making sure that those who are
responsible pay for this horrific loss."
"There are many wrinkles in
dramshop litigation," he said. "You
need someone who is very familiar
with the territory."
Several law professors contacted
agreed this area of law is complex and
that it's difficult to teach because each
case has to be evaluated on individual
LaKritz learned his way around this
area of law when he began practicing

32 years ago, representing bars and
lounges in liquor liability cases. He
now represents victims who have suf-
fered serious injuries or death, many of
which involve alcohol-related acci-
"In the case of a bar or a party store,
there is what we call 'strict liability,"'
said LaKritz. "Anyone who serves or
sells liquor to a minor or to someone
who is visibly intoxicated is liable if
that person hurts or kills a third party.
Workplace liability is more complicat-
ed. It depends on what the employer
knew and when they knew it, how
long-standing the problem was."
A GMC Denali SUV struck the
Honda Accord driven by Judy
Weinstein from behind as she waited
to make a left turn into the parking lot
of the family orthodontist on 12 Mile
Road, just east of Orchard Lake Road.
Judy and Alex were killed instantly,
while Sam was thrown from the vehi-
cle and died shortly thereafter. Thomas
Wellinger, the driver of the Denali,
remains in Beaumont Hospital recov-
ering from injuries he sustained in the
According to LaKritz, Wellinger's
activities on that fatal day are still
unclear. It has not yet been deter-

mined when and where he consumed
the alcohol, or whether or not his
employer was aware of his condition
when he left work. LaKritz requests
that anyone with information contact
him at his Bloomfield Hills office.
"At this point, we're still evaluating
our options regarding the identity of
those parties who might be liable in a
civil lawsuit," he said. "We're waiting
to see how the criminal case plays
A preliminary examination of the
felony charges facing Wellinger is
scheduled for June 15 before Judge
James Brady in the 47th District
Court in Farmington Hills. LaKritz
believes that the civil case will have a
far-reaching impact, not just locally
but nationally as well.

What Is The Impact?

"What makes this case so unusual is
the combination of the very high
blood alcohol content of the driver
and the absolute innocence of the vic-
tims," LaKritz said.
"On a psychological level, people are
waiting for the other shoe to drop, to
find out what part the victims played
in the accident. People don't want to
believe something can happen so ran-


A New Dean Cohen

JAMD welcomes a homegrown addition to its sta








osalie Cohen will have a
busy summer. She'll be
leaving her job as principal
of Dominican High School and
Academy in Detroit to begin Aug. 1
as dean of academics at the Jewish
Academy of Metropolitan Detroit in
West Bloomfield.
"Coming to the Jewish Academy is

like coming home," she said. "This is
my community. My two daughters
attended Hillel Day School [of
Metropolitan Detroit], and if the
Jewish Academy had been here when
they were ready for it, this is where I
would have wanted them to be."
Cohen will succeed the school's
current dean, Dr. Helene Kalson
Cohen, who will move to
Washington, D.C. this summer.
"Rosalie will be a worthy successor

who will ensure that
Cohen has been prin-
cipal at Dominican
Helene Cohen's outstand-
ing work will continue to
since 1998 and was a
social studies teacher
thrive," wrote JAMD Head
there for 13 years before
of School Rabbi Lee
that. The school will
Buckman in an e-bulletin
close in June.
sent to the school's parents.
"At Dominican, stu-
"Rosalie is an experienced
dents describe her as fair
and organized high school
and fun," Rabbi
administrator who will make
Buckman wrote.
an easy transition into our,
Rosalie C ohen
'Administrators attribute
school. Her current duties
to Rosalie the transforma-
cover all aspects of the aca-
tion of the school from an academi-
demic side of a small faith-based col-
cally second-rate Catholic school to
lege preparatory school, including
one where every student (all minori-
scheduling, accreditation, teacher
supervision, parent concerns, student ties) now goes to a college of her
choice. It is exciting to think of all
academic advising and curriculum
the new time-tested ideas and valu-

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