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Dallas Domestic Violence Survivor Awarded $40 Million

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - A Dallas woman who was savagely beaten by her then boyfriend was awarded a $40 million settlement -- the largest financial award judgement issued to a domestic violence survivor.

"It's not the money, it's more the message to stop domestic violence, and not just prison, hurt pockets, they feel it," said Maria Escamilla, who lost 40 percent of the blood in her body after the 2011 attack. The man responsible, Jose Arreola, beat, stabbed and raped her before sexually mutilating her at the Lancaster home they had shared. 

Prosecutors called Maria Escamilla's attack 'the worst ever seen' in domestic violence cases. Escamilla arrived at the hospital having lost nearly 40 percent of her blood supply and requiring more than 500 stitches. Her eyes were swollen shut. Her ribs were broken along with bones in her face. Her breasts and face had been slashed and her sexual organs were mutilated.

Arreola broke many of the bones in Escamilla's face. Doctors said Escamilla almost bled to death and needed 500 stitches to close the wounds.

Jose Arreola
Mugshot of Jose Arreloa. (credit: Dallas County Jail)

Despite a criminal conviction for Arreola, 28 years in prison and a $5,000 fine, Escamilla filed a civil suit for the pain, suffering and medical costs.

Escamilla today said the judgment will send a message. "It makes me feel like my life mattered," she said. Escamilla said she knows she will likely never see a dime of the $40 million awarded to her Wednesday. But she carries the wealth of a woman ready to help others who may face the same hell she survived.

"The message is getting out there. I'm an advocate, raising awareness, to end domestic violence, and I feel my message is being heard now," said Escamilla.

Attorneys Michael Pezzulli and Doug Mulder represented Escamilla for free. "People don't give a $40 million dollar verdict everyday," said Pezzulli. "I think this jury understood they had an opportunity to make a statement that could be heard throughout the country."

As for Escamilla, who's is still recovering, even though she hasn't touched the jury's award — she feels its importance. "To get the largest judgment in a domestic violence lawsuit means that priceless. It means the message is getting out there," said Escamilla


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