A Montgomery County Court jury awarded $124 million Wednesday to the estate of Ellen Gregory Robb, who was murdered by her husband almost eight years ago in their Upper Merion home.
Jurors in the wrongful death suit against Rafael Robb, a former University of Pennsylvania economics professor who beat his wife to death with a metal bar just before Christmas 2006, deliberated for five hours before returning a unanimous verdict that attorneys said would leave Robb penniless when he is released from prison.
The estate's attorney, Robert Mongeluzzi, said he believed the figure represented the largest contested jury award in the state's history.
Any money collected will go to Robb's 20-year-old daughter, Olivia, who testified this week that the murder had caused the loss of both her parents.
"This verdict recognizes the horror and depravity of this crime, the incredible woman that Ellen was, and the incredible trauma and sorrow it caused her daughter," said Mongeluzzi, who represented the family.
Mongeluzzi said a court order barred him from saying exactly how much Robb has in assets and investments, but allowed that Robb does not have $124 million.
"He has millions, though, and we will take that away from him," he said.
Robb's attorney, Erik Levin, declined comment but indicated Robb would appeal.
Robb, 64, is serving five to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to manslaughter in 2007. He admitted beating his wife, 49, to death as she was wrapping presents in the kitchen. Authorities have said Robb killed his wife because she was about to divorce him.
Ellen Robb's brother, Gary Gregory, said the verdict was a victory for all women who suffer from domestic abuse. He also said it would give Olivia Robb the freedom to decide whether to maintain a relationship with her father.
"She is looking forward to a future of being emancipated from her father, both financially and personally," he said. "She views what her father did as unspeakable."
The jury awarded $100 million in punitive damages against Robb, with the rest of the damages awarded for the family's loss of Ellen Robb and the pain she experienced during her death.
In closing arguments, Mongeluzzi told jurors that financial compensation was the only thing left that could be done for her grieving relatives.
"I know that all of us wish that you could do something for this family other than money," he said. "Every one of you would do it, I know, if you could."