Jack B. Weinstein, U.S. Federal Judge, Passes Away at 99.

As confirmed by The New York Times, Jack B. Weinstein, who served 53 years on the bench has passed away at the age of 99 at his residence in Great Neck, N.Y. Judge Weinstein is survived by his wife: Susan Berk, three sons, Seth, Michael and Howard; two stepchildren, Ronnie Rosenberg and Stephanie Berlin; two grandchildren; and four step-grandchildren.

Humble Beginnings

Judge Weinstein was born in Wichita, Kansas in 1921 to Harry and Bessie Weinstein. The family soon relocated to Brooklyn, NY where Jude Weinstein’s father worked in sales while his mother, Bessie, was an actress. Judge Weinstein’s theatrical abilities became evident at an early age when he played one of the Dead End Kids on Broadway.

In the early 1940s, he worked at the Brooklyn docks while attending Brooklyn College where he graduated in 1943 before serving in World War II as a Naval Lieutenant in the Pacific Theater. After surviving the war, Judge Weinstein returned home to New York and started Columbia law school, graduating in 1948.

Judge Weinstein clerked for Judge Stanley H. Fuld of the Court of Appeals of New York before entering two years of private practice before taking a teaching position at Columbia. While teaching, he held the position of Nassau County attorney on Long Island. In 1967, President Lyndon B. Johnson named him to the bench in the Eastern District of New York which encompasses Brooklyn, Staten Island, Long Island, and Queens.

Mass Tort Litigation

Perhaps most famous for his complex product liability cases, Judge Weinstein was famous for creating decisions that would be nigh impossible for an appeals court to dismantle. He would consolidate as many cases as possible while packing his courtroom with the aggrieved parties.

Judge Weinstein’s most auspicious case was a class action lawsuit over the use of Agent Orange, a potent chemical herbicide use in the Vietnam War. Vietnam veterans and Vietnamese citizens widely criticized its use by the U.S. military claiming it caused birth defects, cancer, and a litany of other ailments. Judge Weinstein created a relief fund for claims against the manufacturers of Agent Orange.

Judge Weinstein will be remembered for his exacting standards for attorneys and his propensity for using the courts as a tool for social change.