A New Jersey man who abandoned a son who later died in the terror attack on the World Trade Center may not collect a share of the son's $2.9 million September 11th Victim Compensation Fund award, a Brooklyn judge has ruled.
"[T]he court concludes that the [father], not having been a part of [his son's] life, is not entitled to benefit from [his] tragic death," Surrogate Margarita Lopez Torres held in Estate of Caldwell, 660/2002.
Kenneth Caldwell, 30, lived in Brooklyn and worked at Alliance Consulting, on the 102nd floor of the trade center's north tower. Caldwell called his mother shortly after American Airlines Flight 11 struck his building; his remains were never found.
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At an evidentiary hearing this summer, [Caldwell's mother, Elsie] Goss-Caldwell, who lives and raised her children in Philadelphia, testified that [Leon Caldwell Sr.] had abandoned his children in the early 1970s and took no interest in their lives thereafter. She also claimed that he physically abused her before leaving Philadelphia for New Jersey.
A number of witnesses testified in support of Goss-Caldwell's petition, including Kenneth's older brother, Leon Jr., who recalled his father playing no role in his and Kenneth's lives and called his father's pursuit of the funds "despicable."
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"To disqualify a parent from receiving a share in an estate as a distributee, either non-support or abandonment must be established," Surrogate Lopez Torres wrote. "The overwhelming evidence adduced at the hearing establishes that Leon Sr. abandoned Kenneth by failing to provide him with any significant emotional or financial support throughout his life."