Many people who have suffered injuries due to negligence may seek compensation for medical bills and other losses in a Maryland personal injury claim against the responsible parties. Determining who may be held responsible, however, can be complicated in some situations. A May 23, 2018 case before the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland shows how the issue may affect a plaintiff’s claim.
The plaintiff in the case alleged that she was battered by an unknown, off-duty County police officer while the officer was working as outside security for a nightclub. The incident occurred after the plaintiff’s sister was escorted out of the club by the bouncers. Once outside, one of the officers was tasked with removing her from the property. Her sister punched the officer and ran to attack another patron being escorted out. The plaintiff yelled at her sister to stop fighting, waving her arms. At that point, one of the off-duty police officers grabbed the plaintiff’s arm, twisted it behind her back, and pushed her, causing her to fall to the ground. The plaintiff suffered a broken arm and injuries to her shoulder, hand, and ankle.
The plaintiff filed negligence claims against the nightclub as well as the County, arguing that the officer was acting within his scope of employment with the County when the incident occurred. The trial court agreed and granted a motion for judgment in favor of the plaintiff. The issue of damages was submitted to the jury, which awarded the plaintiff approximately $70,000. The County appealed, arguing that the scope of employment was an issue of fact for the jury to decide.