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$14,000,000 Total Value of Recovery in Negligent Security Case Resulting in Stabbing Death after Apartment Robbery

Reyes v. PHCH, et. al.

After 5 days of picking a jury before the Honorable Charles Powers, J.S.C., Daryl L. Zaslow of Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow, LLP (Edison, Red Bank and Toms River), obtained a $7.8 million settlement on behalf of The Estate of a 29 year old wife and mother who was murdered and her 7 month old son who was stabbed during the attack on his mother. A portion of the settlement is being used to purchase annuities, which will result in total payments to the Plaintiffs of at least $11,552,730 making the total value of the settlement over $14,323,000.00

Jacqueline Reyes was brutally stabbed to death during the morning of December 8, 2009. The murder occurred between 8:30-9:00 am in her apartment unit located within the Paulus Hook Towers Apartment complex in Jersey City, New Jersey. Martey Williams, a Newark resident committed the attacks during a robbery in which he stole approximately $7,000 in cash from the apartment. Williams pled guilty to the attacks and was sentenced to 40 years in prison for these crimes.

In December of 2008 Paulus Hook Towers was owned by Defendant PHCHC and the building was managed by a Professional Management Company. The Defendant Management Company hired The Security Company for the purpose of providing a uniformed security guard, weekdays from 4 pm-8 am. Plaintiffs alleged that Defendants were negligent in failing to have a uniformed security guard on the premises 24 hours a day. Defendants maintained the security at the premises was reasonable based on the crime statistics in the area under the standards set forth in Clohesy v. Food Circus, 149 N.J. 496 (1997). They also argued that because Williams had targeted the Reyes apartment based on the large amount of cash in the apartment, this crime could not have been prevented by the Defendants’ actions. The Defendants also named Williams as a Third-Party Defendant.

Jacqueline Reyes sustained 34 stab wounds to her face, neck, torso and arms. She died of a perforation of the right internal jugular vein. The infant Plaintiff sustained 8 stab wounds to his abdomen including one that perforated his lung. He developed respiratory distress and spent 2 months in the hospital recovering. Plaintiffs alleged that as a result of the injuries he sustained and the prolonged intubation he required following the attack the infant has developmental delays, particularly in expressive speech.

Mr. Reyes, who found his wife and son on the floor of their apartment building when he returned home for lunch, also had claims for negligent infliction of emotional distress damages under Portee v. Jaffee, 84 N.J. (1980) and its progeny that survived Defendants’ motions to dismiss.

Prior to reaching the settlement, Mr. Zaslow was assisted at the trial by his partner. The terms of the settlement, which were approved by The Honorable Charles Powers, J.S.C. on June 6, 2014.