Articles Posted in Injury Law

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Almost three years after her involvement in a motor vehicle accident with Petitioner, Respondent brought a personal injury action against Petitioner and his employer (together, Petitioners). Between the time of the accident and the filing of this action, Respondent filed personal bankruptcy and was discharged from her debts. By operation of bankruptcy law, Respondent’s claim became the property of her bankruptcy estate. Issues regarding the claim were litigated in both the circuit court and the bankruptcy court. Eventually, the bankruptcy court granted Respondent’s request to re-open and re-vested her with the claim as of the filing of the bankruptcy petition. Meanwhile, the circuit court awarded summary judgment to Petitioners, ruling that Respondent lacked standing. The court of special appeals reversed, concluding that, because of the bankruptcy court’s ruling, Respondent was an appropriate plaintiff on a timely-filed complaint. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) summary judgment was inappropriate where the circuit court failed to take into account the legal effect of the bankruptcy court’s decision to re-vest Respondent with her claim against Petitioners; and (2) as a result of the bankruptcy court’s decision, Respondent had standing to prosecute the complaint. View "Morton v. Schlotzhauer" on Justia Law

Posted in: Bankruptcy, Injury Law

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Respondents, on behalf of their minor child, Dylan, sued Petitioners after Dylan received severe injuries during his birth. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Dylan. Ultimately the court reduced the judgment to approximately $5 million. Petitioners satisfied the judgment. After Dylan died, Respondents filed a wrongful death action against Petitioners based on the same underlying facts in the personal injury action. The circuit court dismissed Respondents’ wrongful death action, concluding that the action was barred by a judgment in Dylan’s personal injury action. The Court of Special Appeals reversed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) Maryland’s wrongful death statute creates a new and independent cause of action for a decedent’s beneficiaries, and therefore, a judgment on the merits in a decedent’s personal injury action during his lifetime does not bar a subsequent wrongful death action by the beneficiaries; and (2) a release by the injured person of one joint tortfeasor, whether before or after the judgment, does not discharge the other tortfeasors unless the release so provides. View "Spangler v. McQuitty" on Justia Law

Posted in: Injury Law

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Plaintiffs, individuals with lung cancer, attempted to join in one action claims against Defendants, asbestos and tobacco companies, alleging that their cancers were caused by their exposure to asbestos and smoking cigarettes. Specifically, Plaintiffs claimed claimed that “the combination of asbestos exposure and cigarette smoking acted in ‘synergy’ and multiplied the risk of developing lung cancer[.]” The trial court refused to permit joinder of the two sets of defendants on the special asbestos docket maintained by the court. The appellate issues dealt with how the trial implemented its decision to deny joinder, and the issues before the Supreme Court were largely procedural. The Court held (1) there was a final judgment in the case; (2) Plaintiff’s appeal, in any event, was moot and should be dismissed on that ground; and (3) the Court of Special Appeals did not err addressing the joinder argument made by Plaintiff for guidance of the lower court in other pending cases. View "R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Stidham" on Justia Law

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These two cases involved the common facts of underage people drinking alcohol on an adult’s property and then leaving that property in a motor vehicle. The alcohol was consumed with the knowledge and consent of the adult property owner. Plaintiffs in both cases filed negligence actions against the property owners, alleging that one defendant caused the death of an individual and that the other defendant caused another individual’s life-threatening injuries. In the first case, the trial court dismissed the complaint for failure to state a claim. In the second case, the trial court granted summary judgment for Defendant. The Supreme Court reversed the judgments of the trial courts, holding (1) adults who allow underage drinking on their property may owe a civil duty to persons injured as a result of such drinking, including the underage persons consuming the alcohol; and (2) Defendants in both cases owed the victims in these cases such a duty. View "Kiriakos v. Phillips" on Justia Law

Posted in: Injury Law

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Petitioner filed a complaint against the State of Maryland alleging negligence and malfeasance of an unspecified clerk of the district court. Specifically, Petitioner alleged that she was injured as the direct and proximate result of the issuance of a body attachment. The State filed a motion to dismiss the complaint on the ground of absolute judicial immunity. The circuit court denied the motion, questioning whether the clerk was acting at the direction or under the supervision of a judge in generating the body attachment. The Court of Special Appeals reversed, concluding that the issuance of arrest warrants is a judicial act. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that Petitioner’s claims were barred by absolute judicial immunity because the clerk’s role in transmitting the application for a body attachment to the judge for signature was not the proximate cause of Petitioner’s wrongful arrest, but, rather, the judge’s act of signing the body attachment caused Petitioner’s injury. View "Keller-Bee v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Injury Law

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Moran Perry was injured when he was struck by a dump truck operated by William Johnson and owned by Higher Power Trucking, LLC. Asphalt Concrete Services, Inc. (ACS) had hired High Power to perform services at the time of the accident. Perry filed suit against Higher Power, Johnson, and ACS, alleging negligence and negligent hiring. ACS sought to exclude evidence that Johnson had a suspended license and that the truck was uninsured at the time of the accident. The circuit court allowed into evidence witness testimony regarding Johnson’s lack of liability insurance coverage at the time of the accident. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Perry. The Court of Special Appeals reversed, concluding that the circuit court erred in admitting evidence of Johnson’s lack of insurance. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the circuit court’s admission into evidence of irrelevant evidence of lack of insurance was error, and the admission of this evidence prejudiced the jury’s verdict. Remanded for a new trial. View "Perry v. Asphalt & Concrete Servs., Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Injury Law

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Plaintiff alleged that she was injured as a child by lead-based paint at a property owned and managed by Defendant. By the time that Plaintiff filed the complaint, the property at issue had been demolished, and there was no direct evidence that the property contained lead-based paint. The circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendant as to both Plaintiff’s negligence claim and Maryland Consumer Protection Act claim. The Court of Special Appeals reversed the circuit court’s grant of summary judgment as to negligence, concluding that there was sufficient admissible circumstantial evidence to show the presence of lead-based paint at the subject property while Plaintiff was residing there. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that there was sufficient admissible circumstantial evidence from which a trier of fact could conclude that the property was a reasonable probable source of Plaintiff’s lead exposure and that there were no other reasonably probable sources of lead exposure. View "Rowhouses, Inc. v. Smith" on Justia Law

Posted in: Injury Law

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Petitioner, who operated a dairy farm and maintained a herd of nearly 100 head of cattle, filed suit against Respondents, alleging that a church-sponsored fireworks display that took place on property adjacent to his dairy operation caused a stampede inside his dairy barn, resulting in the death of four dairy cows. Petitioner filed claims for negligence, nuisance, and strict liability. The district court entered judgment in favor of Respondents, and the circuit court affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the doctrine of strict liability for an abnormally dangerous activity does not apply to the noise of a fireworks discharge based on the facts of this case. View "Toms v. Calvary Assembly of God, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Injury Law

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Petitioner operated a lake-front recreational campground on her property in Caroline County. The lake was contaminated allegedly by run-off from failed septic systems serving homes and businesses in the Town of Goldsboro. Unable to operate the campground because of the pollution to the lake, Petitioner lost the property through foreclosure. Petitioner filed a complaint for Caroline County against the State and several of its entities, alleging inverse condemnation against all Respondents and trespass against the Town. The circuit court dismissed the complaint as to all Respondents. The court of special appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court remanded, concluding that the court of special appeals erred in affirming the dismissal of Petitioner’s causes of action for negligence, trespass, and inverse condemnation on the grounds of limitations. On remand, the court of special appeals concluded that the circuit court properly dismissed the State and its agencies but erred in dismissing the three claims against the Town. The Court of Appeals reversed in part and affirmed in part, holding that Petitioner adequately alleged a facial claim for inverse condemnation against all Respondents and that a claim for inverse condemnation is not covered by the notice provisions of either the Local Government Tort Claims Act or the Maryland Tort Claims Act. View "Litz v. Dep’t of Env’t" on Justia Law

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Respondent, on her own behalf and as the personal representative of the estate of her deceased son, brought a wrongful death suit against Petitioner, a Baltimore City police officer, alleging negligence and gross negligence, among other causes of action. Petitioner sought both compensatory and punitive damages. The circuit court granted Petitioner’s motion for judgment in part, allowing only the question of whether Respondent was negligent and what amount of compensatory damages should be awarded. The jury returned a verdict for compensatory damages for Respondent, which amount was reduced by the trial judge to comply with the damages cap of the Local Government Tort Claims Act (LGTCA). The court of special appeals reversed and remanded for a new trial, concluding that there was sufficient evidence for each of Petitioner’s claims to have been submitted to the jury, that Petitioner’s claims could qualify as predicates for punitive damages, and that the LGTCA cap applied. The Court of Appeals affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) there was sufficient evidence as to the counts for which the trial court gave judgment in favor of Respondent and on the LGTCA question; but (2) Respondent was not entitled to punitive damages, and therefore, a new trial was not warranted. View "Beall v. Holloway-Johnson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Injury Law