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.