In some Maryland negligence cases, it is difficult to determine exactly how the victim’s personal injury occurred. Legal recourse may nevertheless be possible under the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur if the jury could infer that negligence on the part of the defendant was more probable than not responsible for the victim’s injury. The Court of Special Appeals of Maryland addressed whether the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur applied in a June 25, 2018 case involving an escalator injury.
The plaintiff in the case was using the escalator in a department store in the mall. She was injured when the escalator stopped suddenly. The plaintiff brought suit against the companies which owned, operated, and/or maintained the escalator. However, the lower court granted the defendants’ motion for summary judgment because the plaintiff failed to designate an expert witness on the issue of liability. The plaintiff appealed, contending that, as she had met her burden to apply the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur, expert testimony was unnecessary.
In Maryland, a plaintiff seeking to rely on the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur must establish that the accident was one that does not ordinarily occur absent negligence, that the accident was caused by an instrumentality exclusively within the defendant’s control, and the accident was not caused by an act or omission of the plaintiff. If the plaintiff can prove these elements, then the issue of negligence may be presented to a jury, which may then choose to infer a defendant’s negligence without the aid of any direct evidence.