Seymour A. Sikov, Esquire
November 2, 1924 – January 16, 2013
Seymour A. Sikov, a well-respected local attorney, born on November 2, 1924 in Pittsburgh, passed away at home after a brief illness on January 16, 2013. He was survived by his beloved wife of 62 years, Rhoda, his three children — Carol, William (Susan) and Paul (Ellen), six grandchildren – Evan, Rayna, Mark, Jennifer, Zachary and Tyler, his nephew Barry (Elaine), his loyal office staff – Helen, Linda and Susan, and many close and dear friends.
Sy, as he was known, grew up in Pittsburgh, the son of the late Meyer and Rose Sikov and brother of the late Leonard Sikov. He graduated from Taylor Allderdice High School at 16 and went on to the University of Pittsburgh. He was a member of the ROTC, which led to his service in the United States Army in World War II, where he served as an Infantry Officer with the First Battalion, 417th Infantry Regiment, 76th Infantry Division as part of the Third Army in Europe. He also performed legal work in the Judge Advocate Corp though he was not a lawyer at that time. Sy even attended the Nuremberg War trials in Germany, of which he often spoke to family and friends as the first time they used translators for the various languages on headphones for those in attendance to use to follow the proceedings.
Sy came back to Pittsburgh and graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 1947 with a BA with honor and then went on to the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, graduating in 1950 with an LL.B, a Bachelor of Law degree. Sy was recalled to active duty as a reserve officer during the Korean War, initially serving with the anti-aircraft branch of service until being admitted to practice law on December 5, 1950, following which he was transferred to the Judge Advocate Corp and served until September 1, 1952.
Sy started in practice with his late father in September, 1952 and then joined the offices of John Wirtzman in November, 1952, becoming a trial lawyer in the personal injury field of law. The firm then became and Wirtzman and Sikov, and later Wirtzman, Sikov and Love, P.A., when the late Murray S. Love became a partner. Eventually, the firm became Sikov and Love, P.A., which continues today.
Sy felt that the two events that gave him the opportunity to give back to the legal profession all that the legal profession gave to him were:
- In May, 1959, serving as a Charter Member of the Academy of Trial Lawyers of Allegheny County with the then leaders of the personal injury trial bar, as well as serving as its president from 1973-1974; and
- In January 1963, helping to hire James I. Smith, III, as Executive Director of the Allegheny County Bar Association, which lead to the growth and success of the ACBA.
Sy was very involved in the ACBA. He helped to start its annual Bench Bar conference in 1962 to build better communication between judges and attorneys. He chaired the Bench Bar in 1967 and 1968, one of the few attorneys to chair the event twice. In 1968, the attendees starting saying “We Want Seymour,” which was heard thereafter at conference dinners.
One of Sy’s most notable cases, of which there were many, was the landmark case of Kaczkowski v. Bolubasz, which was decided by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania in 1980 and related to a total change in determining damage awards for individuals who were either totally disabled or died because of an accident in which someone was negligent, which allowed plaintiffs to receive appropriate awards of damages for the serious nature of their injuries.
Sy was involved in the creation of the Video Tape Subcommittee which led to the use of video tape depositions as evidence in the personal injury trials, which was the first time in any court in the United States. He was the Chair of the Special Masters Program with the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County from 1989 until its suspension in 1999, which program was instrumental in eliminating the large backlog of cases before the court.
Sy was admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court, United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, and all of the Appellate Courts of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. He won numerous awards and honors from the ACBA, the Academy of Trial Lawyers, and the University of Pittsburgh. Sy was the recipient of:
- 1992 — Distinguished Service Award from the Academy of Trial Lawyers of Allegheny County
- 1993 — Philip Werner Amram Award from the Allegheny County Bar Association
- 1999 — Professionalism Award from the Civil Litigation Section of Allegheny County Bar Association and the First Recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Guild of Court Videographers
- 2000 – Distinguished Alumni of the Year from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law Alumni Association
- 2010 — Certificate of Meritorious Service for 60 Years of Practice
Sy founded the Sikov Elder Clinic at the Pitt Law School. He helped to train many attorneys, at least four of whom went on to become judges, including Judge Alan Block of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, Judge Frank Lucchino and Judge Jim Flaherty of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County and Judge Christine Donohue of Superior Court of Pennsylvania. Sy was also very proud of the fact that each of his law clerks passed his or her bar examination on the first try.
Sy was a past president of the Tree of Life Synagogue from 1978-1980 and was always available to help its director, presidents and officers. At the Green Oaks Country Club, he was the treasurer and the parliamentarian for many years, working closely with the manager, Colleen. He was the chair of his Condo board for 10 years, only stepping down recently.
Sy tried his last case in December, 2012, less than one month prior to his passing away, because he loved his work and working with his daughter, Carol, his partner at the law firm. He was a professional to the end and will be missed by his office, his family and his friends.