Expatriate Owl

A politically-incorrect perspective that does not necessarily tow the party line, on various matters including but not limited to taxation, academia, government and religion.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

No Comfort for Nechama

Nineteen-year-old Nechama Rothberger was driving a car in Brooklyn when it collided with a moped driven by Tian Sheng Lin, who was making a delivery for the Chinese restaurant where he was employed. Mr. Lin was critically injured when he was thrown from his moped, and has been declared brain-dead by the medical experts. Ms. Rothberger, it seems, was texting on her cell phone at the time. Mr. Lin's family has retained David Sobiloff as counsel.

Ms. Rothberger now stands charged with some misdemeanor offenses in connection with the incident, but, in the event that Mr. Lin succumbs to his injuries, one can easily imagine a scenario where the charges are upgraded to manslaughter. Lee Kimmel, Esq. has apparently been retained to defend Ms. Rothberger on the criminal charges. It is not yet clear which attorney will go to bat for Ms. Rothberger and/or her family (if the car was owned by her parents) in the civil lawsuit that Sobiloff will no doubt institute.

Sobiloff's job, of course, is to squeeze as much money as possible out of the Rothbergers, with as little delay as possible. Kimmel's job is to minimize Nechama's criminal liability. And whichever attorney is retained to defend in the civil suit will be tasked with financial damage control. Because I am not involved in either the civil or criminal case, I can sit on the sidelines and make some comments, in no particular order:


1. First and foremost, my primary sympathies lie with the victim and his family.

2. Having posited Comment No. 1, I will note that some very strident comments are now being made regarding Nechama Rothberger. Based upon conversations this past holiday with people who have some familiarity with the Rothberger family, Nechama is, to be sure, a slightly sympathetic defendant. She is not an evil person. She does not seem to be pretentious or arrogant. She apparently is a good young lady who made a very, very stupid decision that has wrecked the lives of two families. As the father of a child not all that much older than she, I can easily identify with her parents.

3. More along these lines, note that the photo of her in the New York Post, as she leaves the precinct station after her mother posted the bail, depicts her wearing a "Kids of Courage" sweatshirt, which she presumably was wearing at the time of her arrest. Kids of Courage is a benevolent organization that helps very sick children. She apparently has some sort of connection with the organization, perhaps as a volunteer.

4. There should be some criminal consequences for Nechama. The upper limit was set earlier this month by the Brooklyn DA's office, when then NYPD officer Andrew Kelly, who, while driving under the influence, fatally struck a pedestrian, pleaded guilty to Vehicular Manslaughter in the Second Degree. Kelly gets 90 days in prison plus 5 years probation. Kimmel, unless he is also brain-dead, will no doubt argue his client should be held to a lesser standard than Kelly, who, as a NYPD officer, should have known far, far better.

5. Every dollar expended in Nechama's criminal defense is out of the picture when the civil suit comes along. The more serious the criminal consequences which are visited upon Nechama, the lesser her earning power in the workforce will be. A good word from Mr. Lin's family might convince the Brooklyn DA's office to go for a plea bargain involving probation without jail time, so that she can go forward, complete her education, and go earn some bucks to pay the Lin family.

6. Were Lin and his family legally in the country? Was Lin authorized to be employed? This should not affect the criminal aspects of the matter, but it might be relevant in the amount of damages the Rothberger family gets slapped with.

7. Ditto for whether Lin was wearing a helmet.

8. Ditto for whether Lin has properly discharged his income tax obligations.


This is a very tragic matter for all concerned. Two families have been devastated. Nechama -- whose name is derived from the Hebrew word for "comfort" -- has given everything but comfort on account of her lack of thoughtfulness.

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