$750,000 settlement for nephew of Judge John Phillips

Prospect Park Residence owner to pay $750,000 in death of ‘kung-fu judge’

The Brooklyn Paper
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The embattled owner of a Park Slope assisted-living facility will pay $750,000 to the estate of a beloved Brooklyn judge, known for holding a black belt in karate, thanks to a settlement in a wrongful death lawsuit.

The suit claimed that Prospect Park Residence owner Haysha Deitsch was running a sham facility staffed by unlicensed nurses when Judge John Phillips stayed there, and that severe neglect led to his death at 83 in 2008.

The settlement is a grim victory, according to the lawyer representing Phillips’s nephew, Samuel Boykin.

“No one’s cracking open champagne bottles,” said John O’Hara, a close friend of Phillips who delivered a eulogy at the judge’s funeral.

The out-of-court settlement came a week before the scheduled start of a jury trial in which Boykin was seeking $40 million in damages. In a complaint, Boykin and O’Hara accused the facility of failing to provide Phillips with a diabetic meal plan during his eight-month stay, keeping him in an unheated room in the dead of winter, and preventing friends and family from visiting him by citing a fictional court order, all the while lacking the required license to operate an assisted-living facility.

A 2012 inspection of the facility found that Deitsch was providing services to dependent and memory-impaired patients without the proper license to do so, a crime punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 for every day a facility continues to operate.

According to the lawsuit, Deitsch claimed for years that confining Phillips was justified by a court order, but was never able to produce the order. With no assisted-living license and no court order, Deitsch was nothing more than a landlord illegally isolating an elderly, vulnerable man, O’Hara said.

The settlement closes the long, sad saga of the so-called kung-fu judge, a landlord and popular civil-court judge elected without the support of the Brooklyn Democratic machine. Phillips was famed for demonstrating martial-arts moves from the bench, where he served for 17 years. He owned property in Bedford-Stuyvesant at a time when many — including Phillips — were nervous on the neighborhood’s crime-plagued streets, and he turned his Slave Theater into a hotbed of civil-rights activity in the 1980s.

Phillips was an opponent of former District Attorney Charles Hynes, and O’Hara, another foe of Brooklyn’s erstwhile top lawman, has long accused Hynes of railroading Phillips into state care and allowing court-appointed guardians to loot his estate.

Backing up O’Hara’s claims, a Los Angeles tax firm submitted a letter in court describing the ruinous impact of lost assets and rental revenue from Phillips’s properties, which were auctioned off one by one. According to a preliminary investigation by the firm, the judge’s estate lost between $20 million and $30 million from the time Hynes committed Phillips to guardianship in 2001 until his death in 2008.

In 2008, a state panel disbarred Emani Taylor, Phillips’s guardian from 2003 to 2006, for stealing $328,000 from the judge’s estate.

O’Hara claimed Deitsch agreed to the settlement in order to avoid a trial that would have unearthed unsavory details and political connections.

“Deitsch confined Phillips because Hynes told him to, but they are never going to say that,” he said. “I never got an answer to how he was able to confine him without a court order. We got $750,000 instead.”

A lawyer for Deitsch did not return requests for comment.

Reach reporter Noah Hurowitz at or by calling (718) 260–4505. Follow him on Twitter @noahhurowitz
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

BrooklynSandy from Ft Greene says:
It should be noted that this very same Haysha Deitsch is the man in charge of evicting 125 fragile residents last March '14 with 90 days notice ...after having sold his building a couple of months earlier- last Jan. 2014 for $76,500,000 to Sugar Hill.

This is the very same owner/operator who finally applied to the Dept of Health in 2013 for certification only to have claimed business reversals in less than a year so that he could dump these folks wholesale under Dept of Health guidelines...and in so doing, required that all NYC tenancy protections be relinquished.

This is the very same "steward" of the remaining seven residents at PPR who are too infirm to move and who had to endure 59 degree temperatures in the dining room a few days ago, btw.

And yes, this is the very same Dept of Health which has been complicit in allowing the PPR management to harass, deprive and endanger the lives of their residents and have failed in their moral and legislated responsibilities to protect their charges. Instead, they have protected this owner at the expense of those they were assigned to watch over.

There really is no adequate compensation for the harm which has been wrought...and there is no justification for legislators and government agents who've mostly been AWOL with rare exception.

Would that others join CM Lander, and PA Tish James, in more than denunciations... It needs to be said: far too many politicians show up to get their pictures taken at protests but when it comes to doing something they all say they are monitoring the situation. The seniors remaining at the
Prospect Park Residence don't need monitors, they need heat...and justice.
Feb. 16, 2015, 2:55 pm
Byron from Park Slope says:
This place sounds like Joe Hynes Guantanamo
Feb. 16, 2015, 8:19 pm
Nancy from Sunset Park says:
A judge is locked up in a sham nursing home and freezes to death?

More to this story
Feb. 16, 2015, 8:44 pm
Nancy from Sunset Park says:
a judge dies like this and no criminal charges?

only in brooklyn
Feb. 16, 2015, 8:45 pm
Ed from Bay Ridge says:
What happened to Judge Phillips is a scandal, a despicable shame and an inhuman disgrace.
Feb. 16, 2015, 10:52 pm
Travis from Brooklyn Heights says:
What a sad story.
Feb. 16, 2015, 10:54 pm
Not a big deal from Greedsville says:
What's the life of a geezer when converted residences can go for 1.5 million for a studio?
Feb. 17, 2015, 7:42 am
Charles from Bklyn says:
Disgraceful. We already knew the judicial system is not respected by the city government and developers. We just didn't know it goes all the way to a disrespect for a judge's life. I hope the bench takes note of this case.
Feb. 17, 2015, 2:04 pm
Anonymous from Brooklyn says:
A Judge runs against Hynes and ends up dead locked up in a sham nursing home.

Gee. Do ya think some foul play was involved?
Feb. 17, 2015, 2:28 pm
Jesse from Crown Heights says:
this mandates an investigation
Feb. 17, 2015, 4:01 pm
Cinque from SLA says:
Hynes is slime
Feb. 17, 2015, 10 pm
Mustache Pete from Windsor Terrace says:
Joe will get his. 80 isn't a great age to enter the penal system, especially when you've railroaded some of the people there.
Feb. 18, 2015, 2:34 pm
nancy from brooklyn says:
Wow most of this is nonsense as far as the judge not eating what he was super to is a lie I worked in the dining room an what they ordered for him he was served he never came to eat with out some one there an as I remember they always checked his menu before ordering do that much is a lie as far as what the owner had licences for I don't know
Feb. 19, 2015, 7:13 pm
L.K. from Sunset Park says:
Weird that they settled, and it keeps it out of the news, and without that, how will there be criminal charges?
Feb. 21, 2015, 3:41 pm
Elaine Renoire from NASGA says:
NASGA's position on isolation is this: Any guardian who isolates his/her ward from family, friends, advocates or clergy must be immediately removed and charged with elder abuse.

Join the national movement for reform of unlawful and abusive guardianships and conservatorships. Join NASGA:
Feb. 27, 2015, 7:51 pm
Neville says:
One should mention that the $750,000 was paid by the insurance company to put this case behind them.

Much as most other dubious claims are paid by insurance companies to get these lawyer-ambulance-chaser-extortionists off heir backs.

Remember: Mr. O'hara was barred from practicing law at at time....
March 20, 2016, 1:26 pm

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