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Remembering Judge David A. Katz ‘57

August 4, 2016 | Alumni

David A. Katz ‘57, a senior judge on the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, passed away on July 26 after a long battle with cancer. He was 82.

Over the last 50 years, Katz applied a combination of hard work, determination, and compassion for others to everything that he did—both professionally and in the community. He was well-known by other attorneys in the Toledo area for his thoroughness and knowledge of the law. In a profile run on the senior judge in The Federal Lawyer in 2012, he was referred to as a “judge’s judge,” someone who brought both understanding and intellectual curiosity to the bench as he engaged those who came before him.

Prior to taking the bench in 1994, when he was appointed by President Bill Clinton, Katz was a managing partner at Spengler Nathanson, where he had spent years building a highly successful corporate law practice, representing names like the Seaway Food Town and the Wabash-Lagrange Steel Co.

As a judge, Katz presided over many large tort dockets involving widely used medications and medical devices, including Ortho Evra and the DePuy ASR Hip Replacement. Throughout his 21 years on the bench, he heard thousands of cases. The Federal Lawyer described Katz as someone who enjoyed trying complex cases, but also as someone who brought a sense of calm to the courtroom, injecting humor and clarity into an otherwise tense situation.

Chief Judge Solomon Oliver, Jr., of the Northern District of Ohio, told the Toledo Blade, “[Katz] could always be counted on. Although he had many strengths, probably the most salient was his ability to resolve complex cases…He was highly respected by lawyers as well as by all of his colleagues.”

Judge James Carr of the Northern District of Ohio added, “Lawyers often speak of being a judge’s judge and sometimes as a lawyer’s judge. David certainly was both of those. Most importantly, and uniquely perhaps, he was a client’s judge.”

When he wasn’t hearing arguments in a case or serving on a community board, Katz was known to host events in his chambers at the federal court house in Toledo for his fellow Ohio State law alumni. He was also the 2001 winner of the College’s William K. Thomas Distinguished Jurist Award, which honors a current or former judge who has graduated from the College whose personal integrity and commitment to fairness, freedom, and equality exemplify the highest ideals of the judicial system.

Katz is survived by his wife, Joan; daughters and sons-in-law, Linda and Joel Beren and Debbie Katz and Jon Liebenthal; son and daughter-in-law, Michael and Robin Katz; sister, Sandra Katz Ringer; brother Ronald Katz; 12 grandchildren; and one great-granddaughter.

Read more about Katz’s life and accomplishments in the Toledo Blade.