April 08, 2020

Court upholds award to abused Jonesport woman

MACHIAS — The Maine Law Court has upheld a Washington County Superior Court’s judgment awarding a Jonesport woman $250,000 in compensatory and punitive damages for the physical and emotional distress she suffered at the hands of her former husband.

Michaele Palleschi won the judgment against her husband, Donald, in January 1997.

Donald Palleschi of Winthrop appealed the judgment on grounds that the court should have required his former wife to demonstrate what portions of her damages occurred early in the marriage and that which occurred within the six-year statutory period; that the court should not have considered evidence of abuse that occurred before the statute of limitation period; and that the court should have lowered the amount of damages because there was insufficient proof to support the award.

After a review of the court documents, the Law Court upheld the initial court decision.

The Palleschis were married in July 1983, separated in May 1994 and divorced in April 1996.

According to court records, Donald Palleschi had a severe alcohol and drug abuse problem during their marriage. “He subjected his wife to threats, degradation, dominance, sexual and emotional exploitation, force and physical assaults,” the Law Court said.

The abuse described in the complaint against Palleschi included blows to Michaele Palleschi’s right eye that caused permanent nerve damage; beatings that required sutures on her upper left temple area; scarring on her nose as a result of Palleschi breaking a beer bottle over her face; and torture, including forcibly removing body hair.

Michaele Palleschi also alleged that the physical abuse included the use of dangerous weapons, including firearms and knives. She also claimed that her ex-husband had raped her and forced her to perform sexual acts.

In its decision, the Law Court determined that the most serious abuse occurred before January 27, 1989, an abuse which caused emotional and physical injuries to Michaele Palleschi.

“The trial court found that Donald’s abuse of Michaele after this date aggravated these injuries and that Michaele now suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder,” the decision said.

The Law Court ruled that on the question of apportionment of damages, the burden of proof was on the “wrongdoer” to show what damages he was not responsible for. On the issue of the statute of limitations, the Law Court ruled that the trial judge was not in error when he allowed evidence of abuse that took place before the statute of limitation period.

The Law Court also ruled that the trial court did not exceed the bounds of its discretion by refusing Donald Palleschi’s motion for a new trial.

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