No one can know what went through the minds of Itzhak, Gail and Atira Jacoby during their last 30 seconds of life, as their plane plummeted 10,000 feet a minute before crashing in downtown Newark, N.J. But their estates can seek recovery under New Jersey law for that terror and anticipation of death, a judge ruled on Tuesday.

“Based on the evolution of New Jersey case law with respect to emotional distress … this Court concludes that the New Jersey Supreme Court, were it squarely faced with this issue, would rule that the Jacobys are entitled to the opportunity to attempt to convince the trier of fact that they experienced pre-impact fright,” wrote U.S. District Judge Harold Ackerman in In re Jacoby Crash Litigation, 99-CV-6073, a diversity jurisdiction case.

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