A judge last week refused to accept and sign "crispy, water-damaged papers" from a small Brooklyn firm that had been caught, like many solos and small firms, in Hurricane Sandy.
Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Debra Silber (See Profile) said in her response to an order to show cause for pre-action discovery from Bukh & Associates in Sheepshead Bay that she recognized the firm's "significant hardship" from the storm, and the court had made "every effort" to grant the "indulgence" that the firm sought. But the judge noted that the papers "are difficult to read, and some passages are impossible to read."
The seven-attorney firm was hit hard by Sandy. Its basement, where many files were stored, was destroyed as water rose to the ceiling, said firm principal Arkady Bukh.
About 40 percent of his office in a two-story house was flooded, and his insurance company said it is "highly unlikely" he can recover the loss.
"My understanding is that the damage will be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars," he said. "It's hard, we're fighting and we're working. I feel pretty bad, what I can I do?"
Parts of office were a "total mess" after the storm, he said.
"The condition is bad. We're talking about the humidity. We're talking about the smell. We're talking about the mold. We're talking about the whole nine yards," he said.
After the six to eight feet of water receded, the office staff began sorting through files"years and years of work"to see what was salvageable and which files had been electronically scanned before the storm hit.
Bukh said he is grateful to have the electronic backup. Many law firms, he said, were not as fortunate.
It's difficult to determine now how many files were damaged because some floated from one area of the building to another when the waters rushed in, Bukh said.