A Bowie man who earlier this month was awarded $905,000 in damages for the death of his pregnant wife in a car accident has asked the Maryland Court of Special Appeals to grant him additional compensation for the loss of his unborn child.
David J. Maloney Jr., 30, an $18,000-a-year electronics specialist for the Coast Guard, was awarded the first judgement by a Prince George's Circuit Court jury March 16.
The jury found that a driver for the Carpenters Technology Corp, of Reading, Pa., was negligent when he ran a red light and rammed a 50-foot trailer the company had leased into the side of Joyce Maloney's car at the intersection of Rtes. 301 and 197.
The accident occurred on Nov. 30, 1977, two days after the Maloney's seventh wedding anniversary. The couple had three small children, and Joyce Maloney, 27, was 16 weeks pregnant, according to court records.
In a separate court action in February, Circuit Court Judge Audrey Melbourne ruled that Maloney could not receive damages for the unborn child because the child was not old enough to live independently of its mother.
Maloney has appealed that case to the Court of Special Appeals. If he wins his case, it would be the first time in Maryland that damages will have been awarded for injury to an unborn child who could not have lived outside the womb, according to Maloney's lawyer, Fred Sullivan.
Maloney, who first met his wife while the two were high school students at Smithsburg High School near Fort Ritchie, Md., said yesterday, "I feel that somebody took something from me and because of that, they owed me some sort of compensation.
"I suffered something that no one can possibly understand unless they go through a similar tragedy."
Maloney added that, "Although initially the court has ruled in our favor, it's a hollow victory. It's an empty victory that I really have no appreciation for. I have lost something that can never be replaced."
The jury awarded Maloney $335,000 for the loss of his wife, and awarded his three children, aged 5, 4 and 2, $190,000 each for the loss of their mother.
During the trial of the case, Sullivan argued that Maloney was entitled to $118,000 in wages his wife might have earned as a dentist's assistant had she lived, and that Maloney and his children deserved compensation for the "lost services" of wife and mother.
Sullivan estimated that Joyce Maloney was worth $300,000 as a mother, based on charges from professional home-care services, and $180,000 as a wife, based on estimated costs for domestic help between 1994 and 2021.
Sullivan based his figures on the assumptions that the Maloneys' children would live at home in 1994-when the youngest will be 18-and that Joyce Maloney would have lived to the age of 77.
"The children fill my life now completely," Maloney told his lawyer in a deposition entered into court records.
"I've been unable to do the project that I usually do ... (and) I get irritated more than I used to. I feel jittery at times, nervous, anxious."
Maloney told his lawyer in the deposition that his wife was the only woman he had dated, and that since her death he had spent most of his time with other couples.
Carpenters Technology Corp. has contested the jury's ruling, and has requested Judge William H. McCullough to grant a new trial in the case.
The company's lawyer argued during the case that the traffic light at the intersection of Rtes. 301 and 197 was defective at the time of the accident, and that the company was therefore not liable for damages.