An attorney for the plaintiff in a civil lawsuit against a Colchester synagogue said the two sides are “getting close” to settling on changes to the congregation’s bylaws on “future rights of burial.”
No agreement was finalized Tuesday, but attorney Martin M. Rutchick said he expected a final sticking point to be resolved today when negotiations resume.
Rutchick represents Maria Balaban, 73, who sued Congregation Ahavath Achim for allowing the burial of a non-Jewish woman in 2010 in the synagogue’s cemetery on Gillette Lane.
Rutchick said Tuesday that his client has withdrawn any claims against the family of Juliet Steer, whose 2010 burial sparked the suit that went to trial last week.
Rutchick said the withdrawal includes “any claim for (Steer’s) body to be exhumed.”
“It’s unfortunate the family of Juliet Steer had to suffer any stress over this litigation,” Rutchick said.
The trial featured two days of testimony last week in New London Superior Court. On Thursday, Judge Robert A. Martin adjourned the case until Tuesday and urged congregation members to settle the issues on their own, outside of his courtroom.
There was no new testimony Tuesday. Attorneys for Balaban and the synagogue spent hours negotiating behind closed doors to try and settle their differences.
As the end of the court day approached, Judge Martin held a conference with both attorneys before the sides packed up and left the building. As he left, George Purtill, the synagogue’s attorney, said the sides would meet today in front of Judge James J. Devine to resolve an “issue.” He declined to comment on the specifics of the issue.
Rutchick said Devine “will try to help” resolve the case, which otherwise is “moving along very nicely.”