Obituary: William F. Levine
William Levine, a personal injury and medical malpractice lawyer who was a fixture for decades at the Nassau County courthouse in Mineola, died Tuesday after being ill for a few months. He was 78.
Levine, a partner with Levine & Grossman, tried thousands of cases during his career and never retired.
He was particularly proud of his work on two cases. In the late 1970s and 80s, during a wave of litigation with companies that produced Agent Orange, Levine represented Vietnam War veterans who'd developed illnesses after exposure to the herbicide.
Around the same time, Levine and Grossman represented the plaintiff in a right-to-die case, Matter of Philip K. Eichner, 438 N.Y.S.2d 26 (1981). The state Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Eichner, a Catholic priest who sought to stop a hospital from artificially keeping a fellow member of his religious order alive on a respirator. The ruling helped established the rights of terminally ill patients and their proxies to refuse life-sustaining medical treatment.
Nassau County Administrative Judge Thomas Adams called Levine an "extraordinary attorney" and a "gracious and caring person."
"Bill was a shining example of integrity, honesty and trust," Adams said. "His passion for the law has left an indelible mark on our system of justice. He will be sorely missed."
Levine grew up in Nassau County in Port Washington. He completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania and his law degree at Syracuse University School of Law. In 1961, he was admitted to the New York bar.
He practiced with several different law firms before going solo in 1971 and building a practice around personal injury law. Within a year, he co-founded Levine & Grossman with Michael Grossman.
"He loved being a trial lawyer. He really loved going to court, " said Levine's wife Pamela Sharpe. "On an individual basis, he made so many connections with people because he would help them out with any problem—personal, legal, financial."
Levine was the president of the Nassau County Bar Association from 1995 to 1996. In 2011, the bar group awarded him its annual Distinguished Service Medallion for his contributions to the legal profession. In granting the award, the bar group noted that Levine had been a common presence at the association's headquarters long before he ever started law school: as a boy, he often came by with his father, former Nassau County District Attorney Manuel Levine.