Sieger v. Sieger
Sieger v. Sieger, ___ A.D.2d ___, ___ N.Y.S.2d ___, 2002 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 8295 (2d Dept. 2002)
In yet another episode of the matrimonial dispute between Chaim and Helen (Chayie) Sieger [see the matter reported in the 21 February 2000 "Recent Developments"], the wife's father ("father-in-law") sought to intervene, claiming a financial and/or property interest in the businesses which are nominally the property of the husband. The motion to intervene was dismissed for lack of evidence on the father-in-law's part.
Father-in-law had sought Beth Din arbitration of the matter, based upon a provision in the engagement contract (to which husband, wife and father-in-law were signatories) that disputes arising under the agreement be resolved in accordance with the "regulations of Speyer, Worms, and Mainz." The Court found that such language did not constitute an agreement to arbitrate.
1. Without having the benefit of being able to see the the official record on appeal, Father-in-law's case seems to have been severely wanting in evidence.
[N.B. As of four years ago, the last time the statistic was relevant to me, the turnaround time for the record on appeal in New York's 2nd Department to become available was approximately 18 months from argument date; I am informed that the time lag has increased slightly (after argument the papers are sent through the bureaucracy and on to the microfilm contractor; meanwhile, the Court ponders the case and eventually issues its decision). The argument date in this latest Sieger decision was 18 January 2002, so, unless things have improved, the better part of a year must pass before the record on appeal becomes available.]
2. There was no evidence of the financial transactions allegedly made between Father-in-law and husband as part of the engagement/marriage (which is understandable, considering that the businesses involved seem to be nursing homes and similar health care facilities, an industry in New York where candor notoriously tends to be absent). And though the engagement contract was apparently part of the record, the marriage contract was not, despite Father-in-law's reliance on it in his legal argument.
3. Had the engagement or marriage contract explicitly stated that all disputes under the agreement were to be resolved via arbitration before a Bet Din, there is no doubt that the Court would have ordered the same (at least on the commercial and other non-custody issues of the matter).
4. It is too early (for an outsider, at least) to call on whether the decision will be appealed to the New York Court of Appeals. If so appealed, and if the appeal is not dismissed, then any such ruling on appeal would potentially be quite interesting.
-- Kenneth H. Ryesky
Kenneth H. Ryesky, Esq.
P.O. Box 926
East Northport, NY 11731