By William Vogeler
Some things can’t wait, like when a Florida lawyer desperately needed to leave the courtroom to go the bathroom.
But poor Jeff Tomberg had to wait 18 months for a court of appeal to excuse him. The appeals court said the trial judge should have allowed Tomberg to argue a motion, even though he was late to a hearing because he was in the bathroom. The justices said the judge abused his discretion in refusing the lawyer’s request to be heard.
“Here, because plaintiffs’ counsel was only a few minutes late for the summary judgment hearing and offered a patently reasonable explanation for his tardy appearance, and there was no showing of prejudice or willful misconduct, we find that the trial court abused its discretion in refusing to allow plaintiffs’ counsel to present argument at the hearing,” the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal said.
In other words, “Yes, Jeff, you may go now.
Tomberg thought he would be excused for being a few minutes late that day, but he didn’t expect to become famous for it. He once won Ohio’s largest jury verdict for a child’s wrongful death, argued before the Florida Supreme Court, and practiced 39 years as a board certified trial lawyer.
“There’s an unfortunate irony here that this is what I’ll be known for,” he told Daily Business Review.