Wednesday, May 11, 2016


The chief Attorney for the State of California Caltrans Department approached us in the corridor of the San Mateo County Superior Court House and meekly offered her sympathy about the "terrible tragedy of the death of your son Steven". She continued to speak about "how special Steven was, that she identified with us as parents", and she "was sorry for any misunderstandings". Her face was beet red and she seemed to be stammering for words.

She extended her hand to me in a gesture of what I can only believe was a way to somehow be forgiven for her disgustingly cruel behavior throughout the legal case in the consistent manner in which she tried to demean Steven's life.

I looked right through her eyes with a hollow stare on my part and my hands at my side. She shuffled away. 

Then came the two other State Attorney's, each prepared with a scripted hand shake speech and I said to them. "You have to be kidding, don't even try".

It made me think where does this species of animal come from? Do they have mothers and fathers, families, children, people they love, certainly nothing close to a conscience exists within their android, lifeless bodies.

After their spending 8 long years trying to destroy that Steven Nathaniel Wolkoff was a valued human being who their Department killed by its own negligence, somehow they believed that all would be OK now by a hand shake, and a few empty words.

That's how it ended, the same way it began, suddenly with no warning, no truth, no humanity.

The trial in California for the wrongful death of my son Steven Nathaniel Wolkoff  was over.  A last second settlement that I felt  was shoved down my throat because.............

After 8 long years of other various settlements, decisions, appellate court appeals, involving multiple individuals and entities of those responsible for Steven's wrongful death, our legal journey has now mercifully ended.

I am not naive nor unprepared for horror, but this latest legal episode was much more ugly and agonizingly painful than I could have ever imagined. 

I can only describe this process of seeking justice as if being caught in a horrific nightmare, one where you’re in extreme danger and screaming at the top of your lungs, but no sound is coming out of your throat, and everyone just goes about their own business, unable to hear you.

We do not have a justice system. 
                                                              It’s a court system.  

Best described as a very dysfunctional game of controlled chaos, aloof, impersonal
complex, irrational, theater of the absurd performances, a circus of well paid actors, actresses, and clowns, each performing their roles with well honed skills.

Equal Justice Under the  Law? . . . Well . . . Just How Much Justice Can You Afford?

The “elephant in the room” (or sacred cow) here is legal fees. The expenses of the full, required legal menu consists of many things, including discovery services, private investigators and scores of experts all adding up to exorbitant costs, but the overwhelming factor is legal fees.

Only one per cent of all civil cases ever even go to trial.

Most attorneys today won't even consider taking cases on a contingency basis where the possible award is under $100,000. 
This is particularly true in wrongful death and personal injury cases (or other actions taken on contingency) by an attorney who is not paid until the end of the case (and gets nothing if he loses the case), and then gets 40 percent plus all their legal expenses of the final recovery. 

The practice of law is a profession and has always been a business. Too often it's sole purpose is making as much money money off of the misery of others. 
The more your lawyer spends, the less he/she makes on the case. If you are a defendant, on the other hand, you often want to slow a case to a crawl and make it as painful as possible for the plaintiff to continue to fight. The more you can spend the other lawyers money, the more likely you are to have them drop the case, or force  to settle.
All of these issues relate to time: Time is the enemy. Time is money and frustration that blunts the moral imperative of the legal process attempting to dispense justice. The old saying, “justice delayed is justice denied,” is more than an axiomatic statement. It has a shockingly deep demoralizing meaning for all victims who seek justice.

Now, here’s the perversely ironic part. Money is no object for the  State. 

In our trial the defendant is the State of California which is financed by tax dollars. 

California has an enormous staff of attorneys, an office support staff, and the full array of resources, all paid for by taxpayers. They get paid the same salary whether they are in Court or eating lunch in their office. Their expenses for food, lodging, case expenses, transportation, everything, is reimbursed to them.

On the other hand, we as Plaintiff's have to pay for our own attorneys, investigators, expert witnesses, lab examinations, tests, and all other case expenses. including our own lodging, food, transportation, etc.

This does not make for a fair and level playing field. The State has a monstrous financial advantage. To even come close to matching the financial resources that they can bring to bear on any particular case, our family must spend to the extent of potentially risking ruining ourselves financially.                                      

It was explained to me by a prominent trial attorney, that in "civil court, justice is measured by the dollar amount of the award or settlement you win".

I call it the Bean Counter System of Justice because the costs of the litigation will often come close to or exceed your award, and it will also take years to resolve the case.

Many lawsuits, such as ours, settle when one party or the other runs out of money, or when the cost benefit scale tips over onto the negative dollar expense side.

In other words the bean counter calculator of all the legal professionals involved are constantly monitoring the costs expended and will ring its emergency alert bell that there is no money left to be made when comparing the amount of dollars spent and any possible award financial scenario financial . 

Why should any victim with a legitimate claim be forced to settle it rather than have the affordable opportunity to get a jury's decision? 

Because this is the way the system is and the end comes when the cost benefit has been all used up or is threatened to become not worth the time to proceed .  

A lawsuit should not be a game, played out in the pretrial/trial process; rather, it should be about the pursuit of truth and ultimately justice in an effective, targeted, and affordable way.

I’ve come to a troubling conclusion. 

The civil justice system today, whether dealing with simple or complex matters takes so long and costs so much that it no longer serves as an effective tool in regulating society’s legal matters. In the end, the system has become so dysfunctional that it’s virtually impossible for the average person to rely on it as a means of getting justice.

So, think about this. A flawed, unjust, scripted Civil Court System in which the victim and/or their family who have already been subjected to unimaginable suffering, now experience additional torturous trauma forced on them by the defendants in reliving every detail both related and often completely unrelated to their case , at the whim of those who have harmed you from the beginning.

Everyone is supposed to be guaranteed a “fair” trial with “equal justice under law;” but with a huge financial advantage for the defendant and with the prevailing fee structures for attorneys, how can this possibly be ? How can we call this either equal or fair?

The ultimate question is, was it all worth it?

The answer is Yes and No.

No: because justice was not obtained, there was no true justice obtained on the part of those who are responsible for stealing Steven's life from him at the age of 30.

Everyone and Everything involved in killing Steven knowingly, deliberately, grossly manipulated the bean counter calculator expense formula of cost efficient/cost benefit advantages against us. They played the game to the max, forcing our attorney's and us to spend unnecessary, inordinate amounts of money, simply to waste our funds in the hope that we would give up the case.

First they spent years seeing if we would give up, or perhaps our Attorney's would drop us as their expenses mounted, compared to their contingency risks. 

When that didn't work, we were subjected to the most horrific inhuman treatment by defense attorneys, including but not limited to an unspeakably cruel, unethical, 8 hour deposition of myself by a seriously psychologically ill defense lawyer representing one of the paramedics, always with the tone as if we had done something terribly wrong, as if we were criminals. All the while we were scrutinized with microscopic attention for any weakness in our willingness to fight for Steven's humanity. 

Then all the killers of Steven, shamelessly, in particular the State of California consciously, on purpose, abused the legal system by the use of endless delays, postponements, phony motions, lies, intimidation, arrogance and so much more disgusting behavior to deny us Justice.

Shamelessly, deviously calculating to the last dollar how and when to force us to use up any potential remaining contingency award money, before they were ready to offer us a settlement.

Yes: because our Case was not about our family. It is about Steven and the fight to enforce some sense of accountability from those who killed him. Instead of silence we fought for the recognition that Steven's life has value and that he was a living human being.

We never gave in, never gave up, successfully navigating a system that has crushed many before us, never wavered in our determination to put as much of the truth of what happened to Steven into the official legal records forever, and to seek justice for him. 

We had the best, most capable and honest attorneys to represent Steven in a Court of Law forcing the State of California for a period of 8 years to remember the name Steven Nathaniel Wolkoff. They could not erase him as a human being which they tried so hard to do, and in the end they recognized some value of who he was as a human being.

In memory of Steven and because of our legal actions against the State of California Caltrans Department, it's meaningful to know the highway intersection where he was killed has been fixed. That  intersection was originally incorrectly structurally designed in violation of the States safety codes creating a "death trap", which the State knew about for over 20 years, but chose to ignore its dangers. This "death trap" killed Steven and others.

Now that intersection has been completely reconstructed by the State of California with everything that was wrong with it corrected, so that hopefully no other family in the future will lose a loved one because of the original fatal defective design.

In memory of Steven, and because of our legal actions, the defective medical instrument manufactured by the medical supply company "Instrumentation Industries Inc", (which was then incorrectly used in a botched, unnecessary medical procedure by the two incompetent, negligent paramedics who also killed Steven), has been completely redesigned into one integrated device.

The two negligent paramedics, you know who you are and what you did. Your still out there but I doubt that you will ever perform that medical procedure again. It was made very clear to you that you killed Steven and then deliberately lied to cover up what you have done. Again hopefully no other family in the future will lose a loved one because of them.

Is this enough?


We did the best that could be done for Steven given the realities of the broken legal system, but failed Steven in not getting the  justice he is entitled to, and in doing so I will never forgive myself for not doing more.

No closure, no ending, no sense that it's "finally over", none of this was expected to happen, as Steven's death and his loss forever to our family is a brutal trauma we will never recover from, never. 

Steven was a real person, with a real life.

Those who cheated Steven out of his young life and denied him the legal justice he deserved will always be responsible for killing him by their actions. There is no way to rationalize away what has been done by their thinking "I was just doing my job".

We all have the ability to choose in our lives as to how to conduct ourselves in performing our jobs, whether to be ethical, moral, fair, honest  and compassionate. 

You who participated in killing Steven, then lying about your roles in killing him, those who denied him legal justice, are all guilty of demeaning Steven's life, falsifying your actions in killing Steven, and how he was killed, denying his value as a loving, kind, productive human being, ignoring the real tragedy of his loss. 
You  have no souls and if there is a Hell, you will surely end up there.

Steven should be alive today but instead lies dead, rotted away in a grave, that is his and our reality.

Steven Nathaniel Wolkoff will always be remembered by those of us who love him and knew him as a son, brother, cousin, nephew, friend, and caring, kind, talented human being. 

He will never be allowed to be erased by others and will always be alive in our hearts forever. 

We will always remember you Steven.