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Gonzalez v. New York City Housing Authority

Court of Appeals of New York
572 N.E.2d 598 (1991)


Facts

Marta Gonzalez and Antonio Freire (plaintiffs) brought a wrongful-death lawsuit after an assailant murdered their 76-year-old grandmother and raped and robbed two other women in an apartment building leased by the New York City Housing Authority (defendant). Their grandmother died from asphyxia by gagging, after being tied and beaten, with eight ribs and her neck broken. At the time of the murder, both grandchildren were grown and living independently, but had been raised by their grandmother, visited her every other day, and shared meals she prepared for their mentally ill mother. In addition, Gonzalez had stayed with her grandmother during a week of marital problems and expected her to provide childcare after she had a baby and went back to school. The jury awarded $1,250,000 for wrongful death and $1,000,000 for conscious pain and suffering, but the trial court reduced those amounts to $100,000 for wrongful death and $350,000 for conscious pain and suffering. The Housing Authority brought subsequent appeals, arguing (1) that wrongful death damages require pecuniary injuries under New York law, and (2) that the evidence did not support an award of damages for conscious pain and suffering.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Kaye, J.)

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