For young children, lead-based paint exposure can result in long-term injuries.  In a December 21, 2020 opinion, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland reviewed a personal injury case brought by a plaintiff against a property owner.  The plaintiff alleged that the defendants were negligent in maintaining the property, which caused the plaintiff’s exposure to lead and subsequent injuries related to that exposure.  After a jury returned a $1.7 million dollar verdict in favor of the plaintiff in the Maryland personal injury case, the defendants filed the instant appeal.

The plaintiff in the case had lived with his mother and siblings at the defendants’ property from September of 1996 to February of 1998.  During his childhood, the plaintiff was tested for the presence of lead in his blood on numerous occasions.  After living at the defendants’ property for approximately one year, a blood test revealed that the plaintiff had elevated levels of lead in his blood.  The plaintiff sued the defendants after he reached the age of majority, alleging negligence and other claims.  The plaintiff succeeded on his negligence claim against the defendants, and the jury awarded him $1,725,936.00 in economic damages.

On appeal, one of the arguments asserted by the defendants was that the trial court erred by improperly allowing evidence of Housing Code violations and instructing the jury that such violations established a prima facie case of negligence.  The defendants contended that the evidence was irrelevant and prejudicial.

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Under Maryland laws, a business owner has a duty to exercise ordinary care to keep their property safe for customers.  In turn, each customer has a corresponding duty to exercise care for their own safety.  In some negligence cases, the assumption of risk may be a factor in determining the liability of the business owner.  In a December 16, 2020 the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland considered whether the jury was properly instructed on the issue of open and obvious dangers and the assumption of risk.  The suit was filed by the plaintiff on behalf of her minor son, after he suffered a slip and fall injury at an amusement park operated by the defendant.

The minor in the case was ten years old at the time of the accident.  During his visit to the defendant’s amusement park, he was injured after he fell while crossing a wet wooden pedestrian bridge near a water ride.  The minor’s mother brought suit, alleging that the defendant allowed water from the ride to accumulate on the wooden walkway, which the defendant knew or should have known created a dangerous slipping hazard.  The defendant argued that the wet and slippery condition of the bridge was open and obvious, and therefore, it had no duty to warn or cure the alleged dangerous condition.

After the close of evidence at trial, the defendant requested that the court present its open and obvious defense to the jury on the verdict sheet.  The trial court denied the motion, and the jury was asked to determine four issues: whether the defendant was negligent, whether the minor was contributorily negligent, whether the minor had assumed the risk, and damages.  The jury ultimately found that the defendant was negligent and awarded $45,000 in damages to the plaintiff.

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In a typical personal injury suit arising out of a car accident, the plaintiff has the burden to prove that the defendant’s negligence caused the plaintiff’s injuries.  In a December 10, 2020 opinion, the Court of Appeals of Maryland reviewed a case involving an automobile collision. Following a trial, the jury concluded the plaintiff’s injuries were not caused or aggravated by the Maryland car accident.  After the lower court denied the plaintiff’s motion for a new trial, the plaintiff filed an appeal.

The plaintiff in the case was making a left turn at an intersection pursuant to a green arrow when the defendant proceeded through a red light and collided with the plaintiff’s vehicle.  The plaintiff testified that she felt some discomfort immediately after the collision, so she went home instead of going to work.  Weeks later, the plaintiff sought care from her regular health care provider, who had been treating her neck and back pain for several years.  She began physical therapy, but when that caused her pain, she went to an orthopedist who recommended surgery.  The plaintiff underwent shoulder surgery thereafter.

The plaintiff filed suit against the defendant, alleging that the accident caused her shoulder injury and seeking compensation for her medical expenses.  The case went to trial, and although the jury found that the defendant was negligent in the accident, it also found that the injuries to the plaintiff were not caused or aggravated by the accident.  On appeal, the plaintiff contended that the statements made by the defendant’s counsel during opening arguments were prejudicial and violated the “golden rule.”

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Some Maryland medical malpractice cases may arise out of a misdiagnosed or undiagnosed condition by a health care practitioner.  In a November 23, 2020 opinion, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland reviewed a case brought by the personal estate of a cancer patient and her family against the radiologist who treated her.  The matter was on appeal after the trial court entered judgment in favor of the defendant despite the jury’s verdict for the plaintiffs.

The plaintiffs in the case alleged that the defendants were negligent in failing to diagnose the decedent’s breast cancer.  In 2011, the decedent had received a routine breast cancer examination from the defendants, who found no abnormalities.  Six months later, the decedent discovered a lump in her right breast and returned to the defendants’ practice in May of 2012.  After performing a mammogram, the defendants concluded that the lump was benign.

Fifteen months later, the decedent returned for a follow-up examination and mammogram, which showed an abnormality in her right breast.  The decedent underwent a biopsy a month later, which revealed that she had Stage III breast cancer.  Despite two years of chemotherapy and radiation treatment, the cancer spread.  The decedent died in February of 2016 at the age of 56.

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In some Maryland personal injury suits, the failure to follow procedural rules can have a detrimental impact on the outcome of the case.  In a November 30, 2020 opinion, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland considered whether it was appropriate for a trial court to sanction the plaintiffs’ failure to respond to discovery by dismissing their case.

The plaintiffs in the case were a married couple who brought suit against their neighbor, alleging that his negligence had caused the wife to suffer a serious head injury.  The injury arose when the neighbor had asked the plaintiffs to assist him in retrieving a rowboat at the bottom of a rocky embankment.  Attempting a makeshift pulley system, the neighbor tied a climbing rope to the trailer hitch of his SUV, while the husband tied the other end to the rowboat.  The neighbor then wrapped the rope around a large boulder and asked the wife to watch the rope.  As the neighbor moved the boat, the rope dislodged and struck the wife in her chest.  The force of the rope catapulted her over an adjacent retaining wall and into the rocky embankment.

The husband rushed to his wife and told the neighbor to call 911.  While waiting for emergency services, they moved the wife back home.  The husband asked the neighbor about the ambulance, and the neighbor stated he never called because he didn’t have his cell phone.  The husband then contacted emergency services, which arrived minutes later.  The wife was airlifted to a hospital and placed into a medically induced coma for six days but survived following a long recovery.

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Under certain circumstances, a person may have a duty to protect another individual from the criminal acts of a third party.  An appeals court examined the relationship needed to establish this type of liability in a November 23, 2020, Maryland wrongful death case.

The plaintiff in the case was the wife and personal representative of the estate of her husband.  The plaintiff and her late husband worked for the defendants at a non-denominational church facility, where religious groups held retreats and services.  A man was brought to the facility by his mother to stay for about a month.  His mother had warned the pastor of her son’s mental issues and violent behavior towards her and based on his demeanor.  The plaintiff also expressed concerns to the pastor that he shouldn’t stay at the facility.  One evening, the assailant sat next to the plaintiff and her late husband at a prayer service.  After a few minutes, he began stabbing the plaintiff and her husband, who later died from the injuries he sustained.

The plaintiff filed suit against the facility and its owners, alleging that they were negligent in failing to provide proper safety measures on the premises, failing to supervise guests, and failing to ensure that the invitees of the retreat did not present any danger to others.  After the circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants, the plaintiff appealed.

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Testimony of a medical expert may be crucial to succeed in a Maryland medical malpractice lawsuit.  In a September 2, 2020 case, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland reviewed whether the opinion of the plaintiff’s medical expert met the requirements of the Maryland Civil Rules.  The issue was raised by the defendants, who appealed a jury verdict in favor of the plaintiff for almost $300,000.

In the case, the defendants had performed a total hip replacement on the plaintiff.  Shortly after the surgery, the plaintiff began to experience severe pain and discomfort.  The defendants ordered x-rays several days later, which revealed that the prosthetic had perforated through the plaintiff’s femur and into the muscles of his thigh.  The plaintiff subsequently underwent another surgery to correctly place the prosthetic.

The plaintiffs filed a medical malpractice suit against the surgeon and the hospital, alleging that the defendants failed to diagnose and correct the misplaced prosthetic during or after the first surgery.  At trial, the plaintiff’s medical expert testified that the defendants did not meet the standard of care because they had failed to use x-rays during the surgery or order x-rays following the surgery.  After the jury found the defendants negligent, the defendants appealed.

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Generally, the plaintiff has the burden of proving the elements of a Maryland personal injury claim.  The evidence used in support of the claim must be admissible under the Maryland Rules of Civil Procedure.  In an October 23, 2020 case, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland considered whether the circuit court erred by allowing testimony regarding a defendant’s salary into evidence.  The defendants brought the appeal after the jury returned a verdict finding the defendants negligent and awarded the plaintiff 2.2 million dollars in damages.

The plaintiff in the case had resided in property owned by the defendants from his birth until he was two years old.  During the plaintiff’s childhood, he was tested three times for the presence of lead in his blood.  Two of the tests taken while he was living at the property at issue revealed elevated levels of lead in his blood.

The plaintiff sued the companies that owned and managed the property and the president of the companies, alleging that their negligence in maintaining the property caused his exposure to and subsequent injuries from lead paint.  At trial, the president was called to testify.  Counsel for the plaintiff asked him to state his highest annual income while working for the defendants.  Over objection, the president provided his salary.  The plaintiff went on to win the case.

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In Maryland, school systems have a duty to adequately train teachers, administrators, and personnel.  In a November 9, 2020 Maryland personal injury case, the Court of Special Appeals analyzed the nature and scope of the duty that teachers and administrators have to protect students from the heightened potential of injury.  The plaintiff brought the lawsuit on behalf of her middle school daughter, who was injured while engaging in a required physical education (P.E.) event at her school.

The event in the case was an obstacle course “monster run.”  The plaintiff alleged that during a capture the flag event, her daughter was pushed to the ground by an older boy.  She was knocked unconscious when she fell, and treated for a left knee dislocation at the hospital.  The plaintiff claimed that the school was negligent by failing to supervise the students and protect her daughter from injury and creating an unsafe environment, among other allegations.  The matter came before the appeals court after the lower court entered judgment in favor of the school board.

In Maryland, a negligence claim requires a duty of care owed by the defendant to the victim, a breach of that duty, causation, and injury.  On appeal, the court recognized that P.E. activities may present a greater risk of injury to students.  The court explained that, for purposes of civil liability, the scope of the duty of teachers and administrators to protect students is comprised of two elements: (1) designing the program in a way that takes account of and reasonably attempts to curb foreseeable risks of injury, and (2) supervising the students during the program.

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In some Maryland personal injury cases, the parties will resolve their claims before trial by a settlement agreement.  Occasionally, an issue may arise, as in a September 30, 2020 case before the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland.  The case involved a negligence claim against a hotel, and a settlement offer from the hotel’s insurance company.

The plaintiff in the case had filed a negligence suit against the hotel, alleging that she suffered personal injuries as a result of its negligence.  Prior to trial, the insurance adjuster for the hotel offered to pay the plaintiff $18,000 to settle her personal injury claims.  One day into the trial, counsel for the plaintiff informed the insurance adjuster that the plaintiff would be willing to accept $21,500.  The insurance adjuster declined, but confirmed that the $18,000 offer was still on the table.

The trial continued, and the plaintiff closed her case without calling any witnesses.  During the lunch recess, the plaintiff’s counsel informed the defendant that the plaintiff accepted the offer of $18,000 from its insurance company.  Counsel for the defense then contacted the insurance adjuster, who stated that the offer was no longer available.  The next day, the jury returned a verdict finding that the hotel was not negligent.

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