Wins Six-Figure Jury Verdict for Wife after Shocking Life of Extreme Cruelty and Dowry Abuse By Husband and In-laws
PRINCETON :After a short term marriage of brutal abuse, involving Assault, Battery, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, Civil Conspiracy, Conversion and Theft, the plaintiff, a young Indian woman who came to the United States on an H4 (Dependent)Visa immediately following an arranged marriage with her husband in India, filed a Complaint with the Middlesex County, New Jersey Superior Court for divorce and domestic torts. The defendants were her husband, father-in-law, and mother-in-law, and she won a significant 3-pronged Jury Verdict of more than six figures and was awarded more money than her official demand. Her attorney, Seema M. Singh, a well-known New Jersey consumer advocate, founder of the Asian Women’s Safety Net (a 501 (c)3) organization advocating for women victims of domestic violence) and human rights activist, grew up in India and knew quite well the traditional and deadly roots of the conflict that created such a catastrophic set of circumstances for her client.
“One thing that is sometimes forgot- ten in the quest to address human rights abuses- from voting rights infractions to unlawful detention of prisoners, there are always individual victims involved and legislation alone will seldom correct the injustice,” says Seema Singh. “With every litigation, we look for more than symbolic justice. We seek compensation to be immediate and meaningful.”
The abuses suffered by this plaintiff at the hands of her husband and in- laws were immediate upon boarding the plane, and unfortunately, typical of torture inflicted on Indian newlywed brides due to the impact of customs involving dowries, which were banned in India in 1961. A dowry, brought by the bride’s parents to the husband and his parents, is often considered a necessary component of the marriage con- tract. Too often, the law is still ignored, and a groom’s family remains involved in the dowry practice and its abuses. Unfortunately, dowry deaths are the most extreme punishment and it is calculated that “Indian dowry deaths” occur every 90 minutes. This fact illustrates why this domestic violence must be met with immediate remedies for those who experience even modest forms of harassment.Apart from this ultimate price of death, there are harsh conditions created for the bride if the bride’s family refuses to pay-starving, frequent beatings, being ‘jailed’ inside the home or being denied all contact with her birth family.All of these conditions happened to the plaintiff while imprisoned in her home. Essentially, the plaintiff was treated like an indentured servant and she lost almost 2/3 of her body weight. She was forced to put up with her new husband’s extra- marital affair with an old girlfriend; the mother-in-law’s consistently aggressive and incessant demands for a larger dowry and refusal to allow her to pursue further studies and to maintain intimate relations with her husband; and keeping her a prisoner in the home. Ultimately, the plaintiff was being abused by all 3 defendants who engaged in a pattern of physical, verbal and mental torture towards her.
Finally, she escaped with the one- way-ticket to India her husband had purchased for her previously as a threat to send her away if she did not comply with his and his mother’s wishes. After a period of healing herself physically, when Plaintiff returned to the United States to seek justice, she tapped into the resources offered by the Asian Women’s Safety Net ( www.asianwomenssafetynet.com ) and engaged Singh Law (www.ssinghlaw.com ) to represent her case. Over the course of 18 months, Singh Law employed various legal tools to vigorously represent their client.
“This victory sends a compelling message that the law will be respected in U.S. courts,” says Seema Singh. “I hope women and their families from India will hear that the best of our customs and traditions can be celebrated, but these outdated and abusive practices will not be tolerated. They have a choice.”
The plaintiff was awarded a Jury Verdict/Judgement against her husband and mother-in-law for assault, battery and intentional inflection of emotional distress. She was also awarded an additional Jury Verdict/ Judgement against her mother-in-law and father-in- law for theft and conversion. The divorce is now final.
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Seema Singh, General Counsel and experienced Attorney, based in the U.S., with extensive experience guiding corporations operating domestically and internationally. Singh brings a breadth of experience to successfully meet the full range of challenges facing her clients in life and business. Law offices in New Jersey and New York. www.SSinghLaw.com