Bringing a Maryland personal injury lawsuit against certain parties, such as police officers and emergency responders, may require proof of more than simple negligence. If the defendants are entitled to statutory immunity, the plaintiff must demonstrate gross negligence in order to hold them liable in some cases. In an August 16, 2019 Maryland wrongful death case, the Court of Appeals reviewed the record to determine whether the evidence was sufficient to establish gross negligence on the part of the defendants, who were city fire department paramedics.
The defendants in the case had responded to a 911 call for a reported chest pain emergency. After assessing the decedent’s condition, they transported him to the hospital shortly thereafter. While waiting in the emergency room, the decedent lost consciousness. He was taken to another room and received treatment from the hospital staff, but unfortunately, never regained consciousness. The plaintiffs filed a wrongful death suit against the defendants, alleging that they were negligent in providing medical assistance to the decedent.
The trial court determined that the Maryland Fire and Rescue Company Act granted the defendants civil immunity in the absence of any willful or grossly negligent act. Accordingly, the issue at trial was whether the defendants acted in a grossly negligent manner. The jury found that they had and awarded the plaintiffs approximately 3.7 million dollars in damages. The matter was appealed twice and came before the Maryland Court of Appeals.