Justia Maryland Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Personal Injury
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The Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the court of special appeals affirming the judgment of the circuit court granting Defendants' respective motions to dismiss the underlying survivorship and wrongful death action in which Plaintiffs sought damages arising from the death of Kyle Hancock, holding that there was no error or abuse of discretion.Hancock was working for R.F. Warder when he was buried alive at an excavation site. Warder was an independent contractor hired by the City of Baltimore to perform the excavation work. Because Plaintiffs were barred from bringing negligence claims against Warder, Plaintiffs named as defendants the City and Keith Sutton, who was on site at the time of the accident. The circuit court granted Defendants' motions to dismiss. The court of special appeals affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) one who hires an independent contractor is not liable to the contractor's employee for injuries caused by the contractor’s negligence in performing the work for which it was hired; and (2) the duty of a contractor or subcontractor on a construction job to exercise due care to provide for the safety of the employees of other contractors or subcontractors is owed with respect to conditions that the contractor or subcontractor creates or over which it exercises control. View "Hancock v. Mayor & City Council of Baltimore" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the circuit court granting the motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict filed by Prince George's Hospital Center of Dimensions Health Corporation (Hospital) after the jury returned a verdict finding that the Hospital was vicariously liable for a surgeon's negligence, holding that there was ample evidence supporting the jury's finding that the surgeon was the apparent agent of the Hospital.Plaintiff was treated by a surgeon after motor vehicle crash who inflicted further injuries by failing to exercise the standard of care expected of trauma surgeons. The jury returned a verdict finding that the surgeon was negligent and directly liable. The jury then found that the surgeon was an agent of the Hospital and that the Hospital was vicariously liable for the surgeon's negligence. The circuit court granted the Hospital's judgment notwithstanding the verdict, concluding that there was insufficient evidence to show that the surgeon was an agent of the Hospital. The court of special appeals affirmed. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that there was ample evidence that supported the jury's finding that the surgeon was the apparent agent of the Hospital. View "Williams v. Dimensions Health Corp." on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury
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The Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the court of special appeals affirming the judgment of the circuit court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendants in this wrongful death action, holding that the lower courts correctly decided Plaintiff's claim because he pleaded a loss of chance case, which is not recognized in Maryland.After Stephanie Wadsworth died of breast cancer, Plaintiff, her husband, brought this survival action and wrongful death action against several healthcare providers, including Defendants. Defendants moved for summary judgment, asserting that the legal theory upon which Plaintiff's lawsuit was based - the loss of chance doctrine - was not recognized in Maryland. The trial court granted the motion. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the circuit court correctly determined that Plaintiff's case was a loss of chance case, which is not recognized in Maryland. View "Wadsworth v. Sharma" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the court of special appeals reversing the trial court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Irwin Industrial Tool Company in this wrongful death and product liability action brought by the Estate of Richard Pifer, holding that the grant of summary judgment based on the determination that there was not admissible evidence on which to challenge Irwin's request for summary judgment was erroneous.The Estate brought this action alleging that Irwin sold Strait-Line marking chalk that contained asbestos and caused Pifer's death from mesothelioma. Irwin filed a pretrial motion in limine to exclude evidence regarding an analysis of Strait-Line chalk by the Estate's expert that had results in a finding of asbestos. The circuit court granted the motion as to some of the evidence and then entered summary judgment for the Estate. The court of special appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the evidence at issue was properly authenticated, and therefore, the circuit court abused its discretion in granting the Estate's motion in limine; and (2) the grant of summary judgment was erroneous. View "Irwin Industrial Tool v. Pifer" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury
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The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the court of special appeals reversing the judgment of the circuit court denying Respondents' motion to dismiss Petitioner's petition for judicial review of the decision of the Workers' Compensation Commission summarily denying Petitioner's second request for modification of an earlier order, holding that the circuit court erred.The Commission issued an order approving Petitioner's request for four additional weeks of physical therapy for her left shoulder that was injured due to a workplace accident. More than three years later, Petitioner filed a request for modification of the earlier order denying her request for authorization of surgery. The Commission denied the request without a hearing. Petitioner then filed a second request for modification, which the Commission denied without a hearing. The circuit court denied Petitioner's petition for judicial review. The court of special appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Commission's summary denial of Petitioner's request for modification was not subject to judicial review. View "Sanders v. Board of Education of Harford County" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the court of special appeals reversing the ruling of the circuit court that Baltimore City police detective Adam Lewellen had acted within the scope of his employment and that the Baltimore City Police Department was liable for the judgment against him, holding that Plaintiff was not entitled to judgment as a matter of law.Plaintiff sued Lewellen for several torts, and the circuit court found Lewellen liable for negligence, violations of the Maryland Declaration of Rights, and civil conspiracy. The court awarded damages in favor of Plaintiff in the amount of $167,008. The court did not make any finding as to whether Lewellen was acting within the scope of his employment for purposes of the Local Government Tort Claims Act (LGTCA), Md. Code Cts. & Jud. Proc 5-301 et seq. Plaintiff later filed a motion seeking to collect from the Police Department, pursuant to the LGTCA, the damages he had been awarded against Lewellen. The circuit court granted the motion. The court of special appeals reversed, concluding that Plaintiff failed to establish that Lewellen's actions were motivated at least in part to further the Police Department's interests. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the court of special appeals' opinion was unassailable in its analysis and conclusions. View "Esteppe v. Baltimore City Police Department" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the court of special appeals affirming the circuit court's dismissal of Plaintiff's malicious prosecution claim and reversing the grant of Defendant's motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV) on Plaintiff's discrimination claim, holding that the court of special appeals did not err.Plaintiff sued the Town of Riverdale Park and members of the Riverdale Park Police Department for claims including intentional discrimination on the basis of national origin. The circuit court granted the Town's motion for judgment on the malicious prosecution claim and sent the discrimination claim to the jury. The jury found in favor of Plaintiff and awarded damages. The circuit court granted the Town's motion for JNOV, citing Plaintiff's lack of evidence. The court of special appeals affirmed the dismissal of the malicious prosecution claim but reversed the grant of the motion for JNOV. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that Plaintiff presented sufficient evidence of discrimination to withstand a motion for JNOV. View "Town of Riverdale Park v. Askhar" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the court of special appeals affirming the circuit court's grant of summary judgment to the Bank of New York Mellon (BNYM) in this negligence complaint, holding that Ashley Hector and Alyaa Hector alleged sufficient facts for their claim against BNYM in its individual capacity to go to the jury.The Hectors lived as children in a row house that contained lead-based paint. The Hectors' landlord had taken out a mortgage on her interest in the property that became part of a residential mortgage backed securitization trust. When the landlord's interest in the property was sold at foreclosure BNYM as trustee as the purchaser. The Hectors filed a negligence complaint against BNYM. The circuit court granted summary judgment to BNYM, concluding that the Hectors erroneously named BNYM in its individual capacity as opposed to its fiduciary capacity. The Court of Appeals affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) a trustee may be held individually liable for a tort committed in the course of trust administration if the trustee is personally at fault; and (2) the Hectors produced facts from which a jury could find that BNYM breached a duty it owed to the Hectors as the "owner" of the property. View "Hector v. Bank of New York Mellon" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the court of special appeals vacating a jury award of $500,000 against Dr. Shabbir Choudhry for loss of household services, which Petitioner alleged she would have received from her adult daughter, who died after having received medical treatment by Dr. Choudhry, holding that the court of appeals did not err.In vacating the jury award, the court of appeals held that, in a wrongful death action, a parent could recover economic damages for loss of household services but that Petitioner had presented insufficient evidence to have the claim submitted to the jury. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that, in order for a parent of a deceased child to recover pecuniary damages for household services under the Wrongful Death Act, Md. Code Cts. & Jud. Proc. 3-901 to -904, the parent must present evidence not only that they reasonably expected to receive services from the adult child but that the child intended to continue providing those services. View "Fowlkes v. Choudhry" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the court of special appeals reversing the judgment of the circuit court for $500,000 in economic damages to Petitioner under the Wrongful Death Act, Md. Code Ann. Cts. & Jud. Proc. 3-901 to 3-904, holding that the evidence was insufficient to support a pecuniary damage award to compensate for loss of household services from an adult child, now deceased.The circuit court vacated the award against Respondent, a medical doctor, for loss of household services Petitioner alleged she would have received from her adult daughter who died after receiving medical treatment by Respondent. The court of special appeals affirmed, holding that Petitioner had not produced sufficient evidence to have the claim submitted to the jury pursuant to Maryland Rule 2-519. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the evidence adduced by Petitioner was insufficient to meet her burden of proof. View "Fowlkes v. Choudhry" on Justia Law