The jury reached its verdict in favor of Mary Margaret Farren about 90 minutes after Judge Robert Genuario sent them to begin deliberations, holding her former husband liable for assault and battery, and the intentional infliction of emotional distress.
The judgment capped about a week of testimony during which 20 witnesses testified before a jury of three men and three women. Among those to take the stand was Mary Farren, 47, who for about 90 minutes recounted the assault and lingering emotional and physical injuries she sustained.
John Farren, 60, had represented himself for months in the civil case, but did not appear once during the trial to defend himself or cross examine his wife's witnesses. On the day the trial was to begin a week ago Monday, Farren sent an email to the court saying he had entered a Hartford-area hospital but giving no reason for his hospitalization.
Genuario said at the close of proceedings Tuesday that Farren had not sent any more communications to the court explaining his hospitalization.
Farren has been charged criminally with attempted murder, first-degree assault and risk of injury to a minor, and is facing a maximum 70 years in jail. No date has been set for that trial, but he is now scheduled to appear for a hearing in January.
According to testimony at trial, Farren unexpectedly received divorce papers on Jan. 4, 2010, and had tried to get his wife, a high-powered lawyer herself, to withdraw the action.
Mary Farren, who had given birth to their second daughter four months earlier, testified that she agreed to hold off on the divorce if the two would go to marriage counseling, but refused to call her attorneys and stop the divorce action.
While John Farren, who worked for former President George W. Bush as a deputy White House counsel and before that as lead attorney for the Xerox Corp., at first tried to win over his wife on the matter, but by the evening of Jan. 6 he became angrier.
Before lunging at her, Mrs. Farren remembered her husband saying to her, "I have done everything for you. I don't deserve this."
Mary Farren said as the two were in the master bedroom of their 9,500-square-foot Wahackme Road home, he sprang at her, grabbing her by the throat and tackling her before banging her head against the hardwood floor. She said he then began beating her with his fists before grabbing her and throwing her across the room. He then grabbed a heavy flashlight from his night stand and began beating her with it, she testified.
At one point she told him to stop and that they could work it out, but Farren told her that she was just saying that because she was scared that he would kill her, she said.
When she came to after passing out for a second time during the attack, Farren was not in the bedroom any longer and she got to her feet and hustled her two children into a car and fled to the first home she could see with lights on.
Police and medics found her lying in a pool of blood just inside the front door of a home on nearby Weed Street.
Videotape from the hospital just hours after the attack show her with a huge gash in hear head, cuts and bruises all over her face.
"We presented the case and the jury has spoken. We accept their decision," Teitell said.
"We don't believe this is time for a celebration, but it is one more step toward justice taking place for Mary Margaret," Slager said.
One witness the jury heard in the case, Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor Albert Sabella, said that even though the victim held a half-million-dollar-a-year job at the Washington, D.C., office of Skadden, Arps, it was questionable whether she could be employed at all.
"Based on my review of the medical record ... she would be unemployable for any job," he said.
As a result of a brain injury caused in the attack and emotional trauma that includes panic attacks and a diagnosis of post traumatic stress disorder, she is unable to concentrate, has trouble figuring out how to begin tasks and is incapable of analyzing information and taking action, Sabella said.
Before asking them to award $25.8 million in damages, Slager told the jury that they probably did not expect the trial they got, as he pointed to the empty defense table.
Slager told them that Mrs. Farren was just a "shell" of her former self and reminded them of the videotaped deposition of John Farren in which he invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination about 100 times, but never denied beating, strangling and bludgeoning his wife with the flashlight, he said.
Even if Farren was at trial, Slager told the jury to remember the witnesses he and Teitell presented and asked, "What could he have asked that wouldn't have made it worse?"