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Gomez v. Windows on the World

804 N.Y.S.2d 849 (2005)

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Gomez v. Windows on the World

New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division

804 N.Y.S.2d 849 (2005)

Facts

Wilder Gomez died in the September 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center during the course of his employment. Tatiana Gomez (defendant) claimed death benefits as Gomez’s surviving spouse, and Elisa Gomez Escalante (plaintiff) challenged. Escalante married Gomez in their native Colombia in 1984, and they had three children. Escalante had previously been married to Guillermo Rojas in 1981, but that marriage was terminated by divorce prior to her marriage to Gomez. Gomez emigrated to the United States alone in 1991 and married Tatiana in 1992. After emigrating, Gomez continued to support Escalante and their children. The workers’-compensation-law judge (WCLJ) found that Tatiana was the surviving spouse and granted her benefits, stating that Escalante’s prior marriage to Rojas was not fully terminated, making her marriage to Gomez questionable. Escalante appealed to the Workers’ Compensation Board (the board) for review, presenting documentary evidence from Colombia showing both the validity of her marriage to Gomez, by presenting proof of her divorce from Rojas, and that her marriage to Gomez had never been terminated. An affidavit from an experienced Colombian attorney was submitted to attest to the meaning and validity of the documentary proof. The board affirmed the WCLJ’s decision, and Escalante appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Cardona, J.)

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