A New Jersey appeals court recently affirmed a $30.3 million personal-injury award to the family of a deceased Glen Ridge resident, Mark Buttitta, who sued his former employer for asbestos exposure. In February 2008, a Bergen County jury found that Buttitta’s cancer was caused by his exposure to asbestos at an auto parts warehouse in Englewood in the 1970’s, and awarded $30.3 million in damages to Buttitta’s wife and three daughters.
Defendants appealed the verdict on multiple grounds, but on Monday, April 5, a New Jersey appeals court affirmed the verdict in full, which legal observers believe is the largest ever mesothelioma verdict in the state. Defendants’ appeal touched on several aspects of the jury’s verdict, including the argument that the $11,030,544 awarded for loss of spousal and parental services was excessive and should have been remitted to $1,088,754, the amount set by the plaintiff’s expert. Notably, the court of appeals rejected this argument, finding that the award for loss of spousal and parental services “may have been generous, as recognized by the judge, but it was based on the undisputed evidence that Mark was an active and engaged father, and would have been expected to provide significant intangible services to his children such as guidance, training and counseling.”
“Loss of spousal and parental services” essentially means the denial of a family member (parent or spouse) of the right to profit from a range of duties, as well as the loss of love and companionship, provided by the victim of a personal injury or wrongful death. Pecuniary awards for loss of services are a type of compensatory damages. These are meant to be restitution for injuries sustained by family members. Family relationships can be separated by several circumstances. Along with economic losses from medical expenses, there might also be pain and suffering as well as loss of consortium and society.
When the family members of a New Jersey wrongful death victim file a wrongful death claim, they need a skilled lawyer who understands the scope of emotional and financial challenges that the family is coping with. At Lependorf & Silverstein, our Princeton New Jersey wrongful death attorneys have experience in achieving the appropriate compensation and/or reimbursement for families who have lost a loved one due to another’s negligence. The loss of a spouse’s or parent’s services can be devastating, and the attorneys at Lependorf & Silverstein will stay by your side as you seek just compensation. Let our attorneys help you. Call (609) 240-0040 today for a free consultation.