Former Second Department Justice Thomas Dickerson, who turned cases representing travelers whose dream vacations went awry into the field we now know as travel law, died July 26 at age 74.
“He really invented the world of consumer class actions in the travel field,” said Mark Zauderer, name partner in Ganfer Shore Leeds & Zauderer. “He was a highly respected member of the Appellate Division, Second Department, for over a decade and was personally highly regarded by his colleagues. He was always energetic, scholarly and collegial.”
The Yonkers resident was a prolific writer both on and off the bench. He wrote two reference books in his areas of expertise, “Travel Law” and “Class Actions: The Law of 50 States,” which was published by Law Journal Press. He was a frequent contributor to the New York Law Journal, writing about rental car law just two weeks ago.
Former Presiding Justice Randall Eng, who served with Dickerson, praised his work ethic. He also remembered him as the unofficial photographer at Second Department functions.
“He was a highly conscientious justice,” Eng said. “He was always timely in his work. He never shirked from a difficult matter. You could always call upon him to take on extra assignments or duties for a fellow justice who was ill.
“He was always encouraging writing on our court,” Eng said. “He did a substantial amount of writing despite the heavy caseload he had.”
Hofstra Law Dean Gail Prudenti was the presiding justice when Dickerson was appointed to the Appellate Division in 2006.
“I think he saw it as his greatest accomplishment being appointed to one of the busiest appellate courts in the country,” she said. “When I think about Tom, what I think about is he was an extremely hard-working judge. He did his work. He took it very seriously. He never worked less than 60 hours a week. He was a prolific writer. He took his commitment to public service to heart. He was incredibly loyal to the mission.”
Dickerson was born on March 3, 1944, in Lockport, to the late William and Esther Dickerson. During the Vietnam War, he served as an Army paratrooper for the Green Berets.
He graduated in 1969 from Colgate University and in 1973 from Johnson Graduate School of Business and Public Administration, Cornell University and Cornell Law School.
Before being appointed to the Appellate Division, he was a justice on the Yonkers City Court, the Westchester County Court and the New York state Supreme Court. He retired from the Appellate Division in 2017.
He is predeceased by his daughter Briana Dickerson-Cardone and his sister Sandy Williams. Dickerson is survived by his wife of 40 years, Patti, his son William and daughter-in-law Rachel.
Services for Dickerson were held at St. Joseph’s Church, Bronxville, on Monday.