ROCKVILLE — Andrew Racca was not in the courtroom Thursday when a jury handed down a $19.5 million verdict against him for the wrongful death of Carolyn Mattingly.
That’s because Racca killed himself shortly after he shot Carolyn at her Potomac home Sept. 30, 2014. His estate was represented by a court-appointed attorney in a two-day jury trial in Montgomery County Circuit Court.
The award of $6.5 million each to Carolyn’s husband, Rich Mattingly, and daughter, Christin M. Lewis, as well as $6.5 million in punitive damages was the amount requested by the plaintiffs at trial.
Though it hasn’t been formally valued, Racca’s estate was opened as a small estate, tentatively valued at less than $100,000. Lawyers in the case declined to discuss the size of Racca’s estate nor the impact on Maryland’s cap on noneconomic damages on the award.
“We are very thankful to have had the opportunity to have our voices heard in this case,” Rich and Christin said in a statement. “We are particularly grateful to the men and women of the jury who served and acknowledged the tremendous loss of our beloved wife and mom.”
Salvatore J. Zambri, a lawyer for the Mattinglys, explained punitive damages during his opening statement Wednesday by telling jurors it was important for them to place a value on Carolyn to her family.
“Let the world know that in our community, you don’t get away with things like this without paying the price,” said Zambri, of Regan Zambri & Long PLLC in Washington.
The jury deliberated approximately 10 minutes Thursday before returning with a verdict, Zambri said. Father and daughter were emotional as the verdict was read, he added.
‘It sometimes feels just really empty’
Rich was the executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Bethesda-based Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, where Racca worked as an IT specialist. Rich was informed in late September 2014 there was evidence Racca had been stealing from the foundation by taking expensive equipment and selling it. Rich decided to refer the matter to the police, news he disclosed to Racca on a Friday.
The following Tuesday, Rich got a call from Carolyn, who said her tires had been slashed in their driveway and the police were on the way. Rich wanted to come home but Carolyn told him it wasn’t necessary.
Hours later, Rich got a call from Christin, who heard from a friend the Potomac home might be on fire. Christin found a report of the incident on social media that mentioned a body.
Both testified Wednesday their drives to the house “seemed like an eternity” and described the chaotic scene where they waited for news for hours.
Carolyn wouldn’t be identified until the following morning but Rich and Christin knew that night Racca had killed her.
Rich and Christin were the only witnesses at the trial. They spoke about their lives with Carolyn and what her loss has meant in the last four years.
“I loved her beyond description,” Rich told the jury. “The fact that I’ll never have her again will haunt me, Christin and those that knew her forever.”
Christin described her mother as her “go-to person” and said her death has changed both her and her father.
“They had such a joy for life together,” she said. “He’s lost some of the light that he had in a lot of ways.”
Christin described her close relationship with her mother, from training for half-marathons together to talking every day to planning her May 2014 wedding.
“It sometimes feels just really empty,” she said. “There are so many things that are on the horizons that I would have wanted to enjoy doing with her.”
There was no dispute that Racca killed Carolyn and was the sole cause of her death. The parties only litigated the damages owed to her family. Phillip Karasik, the personal representative for Racca’s estate, did not cross-examine the two witnesses.
“This guy must have wanted me and came after her and tried to hurt (us) and he did,” Rich said. “He hurt us in ways beyond description.”
Karasik, of Karasik & McCullough LLC in Kensington, declined to comment.
The case is Charles Richard Mattingly Jr. et al. v. Estate of Andrew Racca, 438111V.