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Costa-Hughes v. Mullen Construction Co.

Decided: December 4, 1992.

MARIA RIBEIRO COSTA-HUGHES, PETITIONER-RESPONDENT,
v.
MULLEN CONSTRUCTION COMPANY, RESPONDENT-APPELLANT



On appeal from the Division of Workers' Compensation.

Gaulkin, Stern and Brochin. Stern, J.A.D. Brochin, J.A.D. (dissenting).

Stern

Mullen Construction Company, decedent's employer, appeals from a judgment of the Division of Workers' Compensation that held that Susana Costa, the minor daughter of its deceased employee, is entitled to full statutory dependency benefits under N.J.S.A. 34:15-13. We affirm.

The narrow issue in this case relates to the amount of dependency benefits to which Susana is entitled. It is undisputed that when decedent and Susana's mother, Maria Costa-Hughes, were divorced, the mother was granted custody of Susana. It is also undisputed that Susana was not living as "a part of the decedent's household at the time of [the decedent's] death." N.J.S.A. 34:15-13f. Moreover, the uncontroverted testimony was that at the time of his death decedent was paying $80.00 each week for the support of Susana. The relevant testimony concerning Susana's support and needs was presented by her mother:

Q. And don't you in fact provide support for Susana Costa?

A. I provided support at that time.

Q. No, now.

A. Now?

Q. Do you provide support now for her?

A. Yes. I am the one who is providing support, and my husband is also.

Q. And what support do you provide for her?

A. Any clothes for her. She is in school. She needs food. She needs to eat. She needs education. What I want to give her, that is what I want to give her. THE COURT: Medical bills, I assume, if she needed anything medically.

Q. Do you provide and pay for her food?

A. Me and my husband.

Q. And do you and your husband provide clothes for her?

A. Yes.

Q. And do you and your husband provide ...


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