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In a recent court case, the parents of a sixth grader claimed that their daughter was injured as a result of allegedly negligent teachers and administrators at their daughter’s middle school.  The plaintiffs in the case filed a Maryland negligence suit following several incidents in which their daughter suffered injuries at the hands of her classmates.  In a July 1, 2021 opinion, the Court of Special Appeals considered whether the individual defendants were immune from suit under a federal statute.

The plaintiffs’ daughter in the case was involved in multiple physical and verbal altercations with other students at her school throughout her sixth grade year.  On two separate occasions, she suffered a concussion from attacks by her classmates.  She was also involved in a fistfight that resulted in the suspension of one student and notification of law enforcement.

The plaintiffs filed suit against teachers who were supervising the students when their daughter was injured, as well as the Board of Education.  The trial court granted the defendants’ motion for summary judgment.  The plaintiffs appealed that decision to the higher court.

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In Maryland, a property owner generally is under no duty to protect another person from criminal acts of a third party that occur on the property.  There are exceptions, however.  In a July 2, 2021 wrongful death case, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals explained the kinds of circumstances that would be necessary to hold a property owner liable for crimes committed by a third party against a tenant leasing the premises.

The decedent in the case was killed during a robbery that took place at a retail store while he was working as the manager.  The store was in a Maryland strip mall, where there was a long history of criminal activity on the parking lot, including a murder committed the month before.  The decedent’s family brought wrongful death claims against the owner of the shopping center, alleging that it knew of the dangerous criminal activity and negligently failed to take security measures to protect the occupants of leased premises from foreseeable criminal acts of third persons committed inside those stores.

The circuit court dismissed the plaintiffs’ lawsuit, ruling that, as a matter of law, the shopping center did not owe a duty to protect the decedent from the criminal acts of third persons committed on a store’s leased premises.  An appeal followed.

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When a tenant is injured as a result of a defective condition on the property that they are leasing, they may have legal recourse in certain situations.  In a June 15, 2021 negligence case, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals considered whether the circumstances were enough to hold a landlord liable for alleged injuries caused by a defective staircase.

The plaintiff in the case was a resident and lessee of a townhome owned by the defendant.  On the day of the accident, the plaintiff was walking down an interior wooden staircase of the property to the basement, which she had typically done about six times a week.  The plaintiff alleged that the staircase suddenly and unexpectedly collapsed.  As a result, the plaintiff fell and allegedly suffered severe personal injury.

The plaintiff filed a negligence suit against her landlord, alleging that they were responsible for the inspection, maintenance, care and repair of the premises, including the basement steps.  After the lower court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant, the plaintiff appealed the decision.

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When a dog causes bodily injury to another person, the owner of the dog may be held liable for damages in some situations.  In a June 9, 2021 Maryland personal injury case, the Court of Appeals considered whether, and under what circumstances, a non-owner may be held liable for injuries caused by a dog in their care.

The plaintiff in the case was sitting on her patio when a dog ran into her apartment through an open window, chasing her cat.  The plaintiff found the dog in the back bedroom of her apartment, where it had cornered the cat behind a cabinet.  As the plaintiff restrained the seventy-to-eighty pound dog by its collar, she injured her neck and left arm.  The plaintiff filed a negligence suit against the defendants for her injuries.

The defendants in the case were the plaintiff’s neighbor and his girlfriend.  The girlfriend, who worked and resided in New Jersey, would visit the neighbor nearly every weekend.  The neighbor testified that “we” adopted the dog in Maryland two years prior to the incident, and both defendants were listed on the dog’s veterinary records.  Although the dog primarily stayed with the girlfriend, she always brought the dog when visiting the neighbor, who had set up a tethered area for the dog in his yard.

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In Maryland, expert testimony is generally required to establish a medical malpractice claim.  In a May 26, 2021 opinion, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland considered whether evidence of negligence, which included opinions of two medical experts, was sufficient to survive a summary judgment motion in a medical malpractice case.

The plaintiff in the case was receiving prenatal care from the defendants during her pregnancy.  At 38 weeks, she reported decreased fetal movement at a routine prenatal visit.  She was referred to the hospital for further evaluation, where she received care from a delivery nurse and physician.  Ultimately, the physician diagnosed her with gestational hypertension and discharged her the same day.  Four days later, the plaintiff was admitted to the hospital with high blood pressure and had an emergency Caesarean section.  Her son was born with multiple health conditions, including a brain disorder.

The plaintiffs filed medical malpractice claims, alleging negligence against the doctor for failing to deliver her son four days earlier, against the nurse for failing to initiate the hospital’s chain of command policy, and against the hospital.  After the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the nurse and hospital, the plaintiffs sought review of the decision on appeal.

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School safety is an important issue for many parents.  In Maryland, schools have a duty to exercise reasonable care to protect students from harm.  If a school breaches its duty to a student, the school may be held liable for the resulting injuries.  In a May 7, 2021 case, a third-grade student and her mother filed a Maryland personal injury action against the local school board.  The plaintiffs alleged negligence for injuries the student received when a classmate threw a chair.

The incident occurred in the plaintiff’s classroom at her elementary school.  Two of the students began arguing over a pencil.  The teacher separated them by taking one outside of the classroom.  When the other student then started throwing desks and chairs, the teacher instructed everyone else to exit the room.  The plaintiff was the last to leave, and as she rushed to get to the door, the student threw a chair that struck the plaintiff in the neck.  The plaintiff was sent to the school nurse and then an urgent care facility.

The plaintiffs’ lawsuit against the school alleged negligence by the teacher in failing to provide adequate supervision when she removed the student from the classroom.  The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the school, finding that the plaintiff’s injury resulted from the unforeseen acts of another student and could not have been reasonably anticipated by the teacher.  An appeal followed. 

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Maryland personal injury accidents that occur on public or government property may require additional considerations.  Often, legal actions brought against a local municipality arise issues relating to governmental immunity, as in a May 25, 2021 case.  The question before the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland was whether or not the trial court properly granted summary judgment for a local county on grounds of governmental immunity.

The plaintiff in the case bicycled regularly on roads and trails in Maryland.  One sunny day, he took a break from work to ride his bicycle on a 13-mile trail along a river.  The trail is open to the public and free to use for educational and recreational purposes, but was not intended to be a transportation corridor.  While riding on the trail, the plaintiff crashed his bicycle and was thrown to the ground.

The plaintiff sued the County for his injuries, alleging that it failed to maintain one of the bridges on the trail.  Specifically, the plaintiff claimed that he lost control of his bicycle after hitting a short steel sleeve that was too high above the ground.  The steel sleeve previously held a bollard that blocked entry to the bridge, and although the bollard had since been removed, the sleeve remained in the ground.  The County filed a motion for summary judgment, asserting that it was shielded from liability by statutory and common law immunity.  When the lower court granted the motion, the plaintiff appealed the issue.

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When several motor vehicles are involved in a Maryland personal injury accident, questions regarding liability and negligence may be more complex than in a typical two-vehicle collision.  An April 21, 2021 case before the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland illustrates some of the issues that may arise in a personal injury lawsuit stemming from a multi-vehicle accident.

The case at issue involved the chain-reaction, rear-end collisions of four motor vehicles on a Maryland highway.  The plaintiff in the case was driving when the vehicles in front of him came to a stop.  When the plaintiff applied his breaks to avoid hitting them, a second driver collided into the rear of the plaintiff’s car.  A third driver then rear-ended the second driver, which caused her vehicle to hit the plaintiff’s car again.  The repeated impact caused the plaintiff’s car to strike the fourth vehicle, which was directly in front of his.

The plaintiff filed a negligence suit against the second and third drivers, and the case went to trial.  After denying the defendants’ motions for judgment, the court submitted the case to the jury.  The jury found that the defendants were negligent, and awarded the plaintiff $34,000 for medical expenses, over $10,000 for lost income, and $500,000 in noneconomic damages.

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In some situations, homeowners may be liable for a personal injury that occurs on their property.  The care they must take to avoid liability depends on the status of the injured party.  In a May 3, 2021 case, the plaintiff filed a Maryland negligence suit against her neighbor after falling down the steps of her neighbor’s porch.  The issue before the Court of Special Appeals turned on the legal status of the plaintiff at the time of her injury.

The plaintiff in the case had returned home from work that day and found she was unable to open her front door.  She walked to her neighbor’s house and her neighbor’s grandson, who had answered the door, lent the plaintiff a metal knife.  After successfully unjamming her door, the plaintiff went back to her neighbor’s house later that day to return it.  After handing the knife to her neighbor, the plaintiff turned to leave down the staircase descending from the front porch.  She lost her balance and fell, suffering serious injuries to her leg.

The plaintiff filed a premises liability suit, alleging that her injuries were caused by her neighbor’s negligent maintenance of the premises.  The trial court granted summary judgment for the defendant, finding that the plaintiff was a bare licensee and that the defendant had not breached any duty to the plaintiff.  The plaintiff appealed that decision to the higher court.

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The evidence in a Maryland personal injury case, or lack thereof, can have a significant impact on the outcome.  In an April 27, 2021 opinion, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland considered whether an unavailable, and potentially unrecorded, surveillance video could be used as evidence.  The matter came before the court after the plaintiff had won his personal injury claim against an amusement park at trial.

The plaintiff in the case was visiting the water park area of an amusement park with his two sons.  While shirtless, the plaintiff left the water park area and was approached on two occasions by park security, who informed the plaintiff of the park’s policy prohibiting entry into the amusement park area without a shirt.  After several heated exchanges, an altercation occurred between the security guards and the plaintiff, which lead to the plaintiff’s head hitting the ground.  The plaintiff filed suit against the amusement park for his alleged injuries.

During the closing arguments at trial, the plaintiff’s counsel noted to the jury that the incident had occurred in an area of the park that the defendant had admitted was under surveillance by cameras.  However, no witness testified as to whether any video of the evidence was captured, and if so, whether it had been destroyed or was missing.

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