In many situations, the victims of negligence may recover their damages by filing a Maryland legal claim against those responsible. One of the few exceptions concerns governmental immunity. In a February 22, 2019 opinion, the Court of Special Appeals examined whether a local county could be sued under the circumstances presented in a Maryland wrongful death case.
In the summer of 2016, a 911 call center experienced a service outage in the county that lasted approximately one hour and forty-five minutes. During the outage, the decedent suffered a medical emergency. The plaintiffs alleged that they and other friends and family had called 911 repeatedly, for over an hour, but were unable to get through. Eventually they were connected with emergency services and rescue personal subsequently responded to the scene. Tragically, the decedent could not be revived, and he passed away.
In their suit, the plaintiffs claimed that the county was negligent in maintaining the air conditioning unit that had failed and caused the 911 service outage, which in turn, allegedly caused the decedent’s death. The circuit court dismissed the plaintiffs’ claims, ruling that the county was immune from suit and that the county officials, named as individual defendants, did not owe a duty to the plaintiffs or the decedent. The plaintiffs appealed the decision to the higher court.