$10,602,247 Judgment Awarded in Child Victims Act Case

$10,602,247 Judgment Awarded in Child Victims Act Case

The Law Office of J. Michael Hayes successfully achieved a verdict of $9,000,000 from the Court in a Child Victims Act sexual abuse case on October 5, 2023. William J. Hallett, Esq. of the Firm obtained the verdict on behalf of the Plaintiff. Interest on the judgment puts the award at more than $10,000,000.

“JMH 500 Doe,” a pseudonym, was sexually assaulted and molested twice by PAUL D. GAETA in or around 1987. At the time of the abuse, Gaeta was approximately thirty (30) years old. The boy was only eleven (11) years old. Gaeta was involved in many community activities that permitted him access to underage children and placed him in positions of authority over children.

Attorney Hallett provided evidence from retired Buffalo Police Officer Robert Calabrese by submitting a sworn affidavit regarding his knowledge of Gaeta’s abuse. Officer Calabrese attested that he came across Gaeta in Delaware Park in 1978 when he saw a suspicious car parked. He found and personally observed Gaeta abusing a different child, who was also only eleven (11) years old at the time. Though Gaeta was arrested in 1978, he was granted an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal (“ACD”) and his file was sealed. This kept him off the sex offender registry and ultimately made it possible for him to subsequently abuse Plaintiff and others.

Several of JMH 500 Doe’s childhood friends and neighbors in the Lovejoy Neighborhood witnessed Gaeta’s abuse of Plaintiff and even some of them were also abused by Gaeta. Unfortunately, these witnesses were so psychologically injured by the abuse that they later committed suicide. The Lovejoy Neighborhood was plagued by Gaeta for a long time.

As a result of the abuse, the child, JMH 500 Doe, suffered psychological injuries, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, and multiple suicide attempts. He continues to struggle with these issues.

The Court assessed compensatory damages in the amount of $3,000,000 for past pain and suffering, $1,000,000 for future pain and suffering, and made a special award of punitive damages in the amount of $5,000,000, together with interest and costs. Punitive damages are used to punish defendants for malicious acts and may be awarded for conduct that represents a high degree of immorality. Interest accruing on the judgment brings the verdict to $10,602,247.90 as of October 5, 2023. This judgment is not dischargeable in bankruptcy.

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