Robert A. Spolzino

Robert A. Spolzino

of Counsel
rspolzino@sbjlaw.com

Bob Spolzino’s practice focuses on appellate matters, governmental and commercial litigation, and municipal, land use and environmental regulatory matters and disputes. He brings to his practice his unique insight as a former trial and appellate judge.

Bob served for eight years as Justice of the New York State Supreme Court, including five years as a Justice of the Appellate Division, New York’s intermediate appellate court. In that capacity, Bob decided more than 5,000 appeals. He wrote major opinions for the court in such diverse areas as environmental impact review, equitable distribution of marital property, rent regulation, fiduciary obligations of corporate officers, liability of cruise lines for injuries to passengers, benefits due disabled firefighters and the liability for their injuries, and church property disputes. Several of his dissents led to reversals by the Court of Appeals, New York’s highest court. Bob was recently nominated by the New York State Commission on Judicial Nomination as one of seven candidates for appointment by the Governor as Associate Judge of the Court of Appeals.

Since returning to private practice in 2009, Bob has argued seven times in New York’s highest court, the New York Court of Appeals, and more than 30 times in the Appellate Division. His cases include:

  • representing three Justices of the New York State Supreme Court, successfully obtained an order preventing them from remaining on the bench after age 70 unless they relinquished their retirement benefits from prior judicial service;
  • representing the Comptroller of the City of New York, successfully compelled the New York City Department of Finance to allow the Comptroller to audit its corporate tax collections, despite a 30-year old opinion by the New York City Corporation Counsel that the Comptroller had no such rights;
  • representing the beneficiary of an estate on appeal, obtained affirmance of a will construction recognizing the decedent’s intent to include him among her beneficiaries, even though the language in the will did not include him;
  • representing investors of $19 million in an oil and gas partnership. successfully obtained reversal on appeal of an order dismissing a claim against the management of the partnership for breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty;
  • representing a major New York City healthcare institution, successfully obtained dismissal of an indemnification claim by another hospital in a brain damaged baby case;
  • representing a Hudson Valley Healthcare institution successfully sustained on appeal to New York’s Court of Appeals a judgment dismissing a claim against a hospital by a patient who insisted on being discharged and was then injured in an automobile accident;
  • representing on appeal a mother from whom custody of her eight-year old child has been taken away, successfully obtained reversal of the order;
  • representing a commercial tenant, successfully obtained dismissal of a $9 million claim for breach of the lease; and
  • representing the manufacturer of exercise equipment, successfully obtained a $25 million reduction in a verdict in a products liability case.

Prior to taking the bench, Bob served as the Village Attorney of the Village/Town of Mount Kisco in Westchester County, NY, from 1987 to 1995 and as counsel to New York State Senator Nicholas A. Spano.

Bob is a member of the adjunct faculty at Pace University School of Law, where he has taught environmental impact review. He is the administrator of the Catalyst Public Service Fellowship Program, provides stipends to law students to enable them to accept public service internships during the summer. He is a member of the New York State Bar Association and its Committee on Courts of Appellate Jurisdiction. He served for several years on the Executive Committee of the Municipal Law Section. He is a Fellow of the New York Bar Foundation and was appointed by the Presiding Justice of the Appellate Division, Second Department, to the New York State Continuing Legal Education Board. Bob previously has served, by appointment of the Chief Judge of the State of New York, as a member of the Commission to Promote Public Confidence in Judicial Elections (Feerick Commission); the Matrimonial Commission (Miller Commission), which was created to examine and recommend reforms with respect to the divorce litigation process in New York; and the New York State Advisory Committee on Bar Admissions.

Bob is a member of the Board of Directors of the Healthcare Association of New York State and is the Secretary/Treasurer and a member of the Board of Governors of Healthcare Trustees of New York State, the statewide organization of hospital trustees.   Bob served for 11 years on the Board of Trustees of Northern Westchester Hospital, four of those years as the Board’s chair. He has also served as a member of the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors of the Northwell Health System, and is presently a member of Northwell’s Board of Overseers.