COBBLE HILL — The family of a lawyer who was fatally hit by debris that fell from a Brooklyn church after it was struck by lightning has reached a $3.5 million settlement with the church, DNAinfo New York has learned.
Richard Schwartz was killed on July 26, 2012, when a bolt of lightning caused stone pieces from the façade, roof and steeple of Christ Church and Holy Family to fall onto scaffolding below. The debris caused the scaffolding to collapse on Schwartz, who was a pedestrian walking on the sidewalk along the Episcopal church.
Schwartz's daughter, Julia, and his former wife, Geraldine Boylan, sued the Cobble Hill church and the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island in 2013, claiming that, prior to the accident, church officials were negligent because they knew for 12 years that the building's roof, steeple and façade were in disrepair and needed about $1 million in fixes. The damage stemmed from a lightning strike in 2000, according to the lawsuit.
Schwartz's family said in the lawsuit that during that 12-year period, the church was embroiled in a dispute with their insurance carrier, Church Insurance Company, over money to make the repairs.
Julia Schwartz and Boylan, who are the administrators of Richard Schwartz's estate, reached a $3.5 million settlement in August 2015. But they filed a petition in Brooklyn Surrogate's Court last month asking for a judge to approve the settlement.
Under the deal, Church Insurance Company, will pay the $3.5 million on behalf of Christ Church and the Diocese of Long Island, according to the petition.
Julia Schwartz, as sole distributee of the estate, will receive $2.3 million of the settlement. The remainder will go to the lawyers representing her and Boylan in the wrongful death lawsuit.
Richard Schwartz was 61 and an assistant state attorney general in New York earning $110,000 when he was killed.
A spokeswoman for the Diocese of Long Island did not respond to a request for comment.
Howard Hershenhorn, a lawyer for the estate, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.