A jury in Montgomery County that recently heard a wrongful death case has awarded the plaintiff $19.5 million. The case was brought by the surviving family of Carolyn Mattingly of Potomac. The defendant, Andrew Racca, had committed suicide in 2014. His estate is only estimated to have a value of about $100,000.
Racca was employed by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation when the company management confronted him about possible involvement in the theft of some computer hardware from the facility. Racca later drove to the home of the organization's CEO where his wife was the only one home. Racca allegedly killed Mattingly and then started a fire in the garage area before driving across town and taking his own life. Investigators said that Carolyn Mattingly and Racca did not have any prior relationship or association.
Background of Victim
Carolyn Mattingly was 57 at the time of her death and worked in real estate and was active in a host of community efforts. Cathy Serrette, a Prince George Circuit Court Judge, said Mattingly was active in an organization that advocated for females who are incarcerated in the state's prisons. The Women Moving Forward group conducted training and education for those returning from a period of incarceration and assisted with job skills and overcoming challenges related to addiction. Others referred to her as being “warm and very personable in a kind and generous way.”
Racca, who lived in Chevy Chase, was 42-years-old at the time and was employed in the foundation's network operations department. After the first time management engaged him regarding the missing equipment Racca did not make it to work the following day. The organization had discovered that the hardware was missing as a result of an internal audit. Investigators assume Racca's anger became directed at the company's chief executive, C. Richard Mattingly. Police found Racca's body when they responded to a report of a vehicle that had struck a tree off of Piney Meetinghouse Road.
Prior Act of Vandalism
Racca did not respond with hostility when initially questioned regarding the theft. The organization says they had not formally terminated his position or suspended him when the subsequent aggressive actions began. Police believe that the day prior to the fatal encounter with Mrs. Mattingly that Racca had cut and deflated the tires of a vehicle parked on the property.
Friends Express Disbelief
H. Victoria Goldsborough had worked with Mrs. Mattingly on projects that involved the Maryland Commission for Women. Goldsborough applauded her committed efforts across the state in the Women of Tomorrow program. She described Mattingly's focus as being “to ensure that women were treated fairly and justly”. She further described her demeanor as being “quiet” and “strong.”
After a lengthy investigation, federal officials believed that Racca had worked with Lowell M. Sherman over a several year period to purchase unnecessary electronic hardware that they would then sell. The losses for the company were estimated at $300,000. Sherman entered a guilty plea on charges related to wire fraud as a result of the case. Investigators did not find any evidence suggesting Sherman was involved in the death of Carolyn Mattingly.
Personal Representative in Civil Cases
Because the defendant was already deceased when the wrongful death action began, the claim named the personal representative of his estate as the defendant. Under Maryland Law, when the party alleged to be responsible for the plaintiff's death is deceased, the action may continue against their personal representative. State statute defines this party as being the defendant's “executor, administrator, or special administrator.”