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Ask Delta-Lawyer Your Own Question
Delta-Lawyer, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 3546
Experience:  10 years practicing IP law and general litigation
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I returned with my daughter from a business trip on June 7th,

Customer Question

I returned with my daughter from a business trip on June 7th, 2015 and saw signs on the outside of our building where we live in the Faculty in Residence apartment announcing an asbestos abatement program to begin on June 8th. I never received email, written or verbal notification of this work, nor were these signs posted prior to our departure on May 24th after graduation. I took my daughter to school the morning of June 8th, returned home and worked from home in my apartment until the afternoon when I heard loud noises outside the apartment. I came out to find the entire hallway encased in white plastic with frightening, warning signs about construction and asbestos removal. The workmen, who had torn off all the fire doors in the building and begun the process of preparing to remove asbestos in my dorm were doing so assuming no one was living in the building. My 7 year old daughter and I were informed by a regional safety inspector based in Syracuse (whom I contacted about this) that the workmen had obtained a variance, based on the fact that they were told no one would be living in the building, which permits them to remove the asbestos without needing to take certain protective measures. The dangers of asbestos have been clearly documented and my family was compelled to make an emergency pack of all our household belongings and move to a temporary non-renovated freshman dorm space across the street. Building facilities assisted with the move as did my mover over the weekend.
Those responsible have agreed to pay for my move and a nominal $500 toward expenses until we relocate at the end of the month. They will also ship boxes that I still have to sort and pack. I am asking as well for the standard government posted per diem in addition to compensation based on the work time I have lost (@ 2 weeks salary), undue stress, and potential professional losses due to this preventable, potentially life threatening circumstance. I am sure that my estimate is on the extremely low side.
What is a reasonable amount to ask for compensating emotional distress and physical discomfort over the period of three weeks? I am a tenured professor at an ivy league university and I make just over $100k per year. I've only asked for approximately $1,200 in per diem and 2 weeks salary at approximately $1,900 per week. I don't know how to calculate an amount for emotional distress etc. described above.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Delta-Lawyer replied 2 years ago.
I hope this message finds you well, present circumstances excluded. I am a licensed attorney with over a decade of litigation experience. It is a pleasure to assist you today, though I wish the circumstances were different. Calculating emotional distress, as you might imagine, is quite the moving target and depends on a variety of factors. Emotional distress claims will be based on the events that surround your particular situation, how this emotional distress is medically treated (if at all), the diagnosis relative to the stress (think post traumatic stress syndrome), the facts relative to the event (what would the average individual think of the situation and how would they be affected), etc. This is established via expert testimony in cases of litigation. In the present case, since litigation has not ensued, the emotional distress claim request will typically be lower than if litigated. One reason is you are not necessarily going to employ an expert that you have to pay to establish the claim. In the past, in situations like this one, I have asked for emotional distress damages anywhere from 15-25% of the rest of the total claim. If this is a $5,000 claim, notwithstanding the emotional distress component, then $750 to $1250 would likely be a fair amount to ask. I say this because, to my knowledge, you have not had to seek medical treatment or be medicated for the emotional distress. There has not been a medical diagnosis as to how long you will deal with stress or anxiety relative to the event - therefore future medicals in not known. Moreover, if the amount is much more than that, you run the risk of the management digging their feet in and forcing you to litigate the matter. You will end up spending money with no assurance of a return if you litigate on this issue of emotional distress. In short, I think asking for an amount of $750 to $1,250 over and above the other related expenses and liabilities is fair under the circumstances as I understand them I base this on my own litigation experience in similar situations in view of the totality of circumstances. Let me know if you have any other questions. Please rate my answer positively as well. Best wishes going forward!
Expert:  Delta-Lawyer replied 2 years ago.
Did you have any additional questions or comments? I want to make sure you are as comfortable as possible as you move forward with this issue. Thanks