The untimely death of loved one can be especially tragic if it was likely preventable.  In a November 2, 2018 case, the surviving daughters and estate of the decedent filed a Maryland wrongful death action against an asbestos product manufacturer after their mother passed away from malignant mesothelioma.  The manufacturer supplied asbestos products to the company that employed the decedent’s husband, who used them for over thirty years in the course of his job.  The asbestos products created dust that covered his clothes at the end of the work day.

In their lawsuit, the plaintiffs alleged that their mother’s malignant mesothelioma was caused by her exposure to asbestos fibers from the defendant’s products when she shook out and washed her husband’s clothing every day.  For the defendant to be held liable for its negligence, the defendant must have had a responsibility, or duty, to the victim to act accordingly.  The plaintiffs in the case claimed that the defendant was negligent in failing to warn the decedent of the harm caused by asbestos exposure.

After the plaintiffs presented their proof at trial, the defendant moved for judgment.  The defendant argued that the plaintiffs had failed to prove that it owed a legal duty to warn household members of the dangers of asbestos exposure.  The trial court agreed and entered judgment in favor of the defendant, and the plaintiffs appealed.

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In some cases, determining which defendants may be held liable for injuries in a Maryland negligence claim is an issue for the courts.  In a November 9, 2018 case, the plaintiff alleged that he contracted lead paint poisoning while living at a property between 1995 and 1996.  The owner of the property had passed away in 1993, and the property was run by the personal representatives of his estate until 1997.  The plaintiff, therefore, sued the personal representatives for his injuries.  Eventually, the plaintiff abandoned his claims against all but one of the defendants.  When the circuit court entered summary judgment in favor of the remaining personal representative, the plaintiff appealed.

The plaintiff had filed claims based on negligence and violations of the Maryland Consumer Protection Act (MCPA), alleging that the defendant, while serving as co-personal representative of the property, had owned, controlled, or managed the property.  On appeal, the issue for the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland was whether the plaintiff could bring suit against the personal representative of the property owner’s estate for lead paint poisoning.

Under the local housing code, property owners and operators have a duty to provide a residence that is free from chipping, flaking, or peeling paint.  In order to be held personally liable for a breach of this duty and any resulting harm, therefore, the defendant must fall under the definition of an owner or operator.

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Unlike general personal injury and negligence cases, Maryland medical malpractice actions are typically subject to the Health Care Malpractice Claims Act (Act), which has a few different procedural requirements.  In an August 2, 2018 case, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland discussed the supplemental certificate of a qualified expert, which must be filed within 15 days after the deadline for discovery.  The plaintiff in the case had failed to file a supplemental certificate within the timeframe provided by the Act.  This ultimately led to the dismissal of her medical malpractice claim against the defendants.

The plaintiff had underwent gastrectomy surgery, which was performed by the defendant, a medical physician.  A few weeks after the surgery, the plaintiff was diagnosed with a hernia at the site of the gastrectomy.  During a procedure to repair the plaintiff’s condition, the defendant lacerated her aorta, causing her to lose 50 percent of her blood.  She experienced severe pain and went through several periods of rehabilitation.

The plaintiff filed a medical malpractice complaint against the doctor and hospital in November of 2015.  Pursuant to a scheduling order issued by the circuit court, discovery ended in January of 2017.  Pursuant to the Act, therefore, the plaintiff was required to submit a supplemental certificate of a qualified expert within 15 days.  When she failed to both file the certificate and ask for an extension, the defendants moved to dismiss her claim.  The plaintiff responded by opposing the motion and moving for a brief extension of time to file the required certificate.  The plaintiff explained that, because her attorney practiced primarily out of state and was unfamiliar with the statutory requirements, she had good cause to receive an extension of time.  The plaintiff also presented her supplemental certificate of an expert.  Nevertheless, finding that the plaintiff did not have good cause for an extension, the circuit court granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss.

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The legal knowledge of a skilled Maryland personal injury attorney is often crucial to present the case persuasively to a jury and object to inadmissible evidence.  In a recent Maryland car accident case, the plaintiff obtained a favorable jury verdict on the issues of her damages.  On appeal, the defendant argued that the plaintiff should not have been permitted to introduce evidence of bias regarding the relationship between the defendant’s expert witness and the defendant’s auto insurance company.  The Court of Special Appeals of Maryland considered the issue in an opinion released on October 9, 2018.

The plaintiff in the case was a passenger in the backseat of a vehicle driven by the defendant, which rear-ended another vehicle on the highway.  The plaintiff received medical treatment the day after the accident for injuries to her knee, neck, and back.  The plaintiff filed a personal injury suit against the defendant, alleging that he negligently struck the vehicle in front of him, thereby causing her injuries.

The defendant conceded that he was liable for the plaintiff’s injuries, and the case proceeded to trial on the issue of the plaintiff’s damages.  The parties both produced expert witnesses who testified as to the plaintiff’s injuries.  During cross-examination, the plaintiff questioned the defendant’s expert witness about an investment of over one million dollars that he received for his corporation from the defendant’s insurance company.  The defendant’s objection to the line of questioning was overruled by the trial court.  Ultimately, the jury awarded the plaintiff compensatory damages in the amount of $353,000.   The defendant brought the subsequent appeal.

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Injured plaintiffs may hold individuals, businesses, and entities liable for their negligence in a Maryland personal injury suit.  When the defendant is the county, city, or government, however, the issue of governmental immunity may arise.  In a November 1, 2018 case, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland considered whether a local County was immune from a negligence claim brought by an injured pedestrian.  The County appealed the issue after the plaintiff won her suit and was awarded over $50,000 for her injuries.

The plaintiff in the case was injured when she stepped on a water meter lid that flipped open, causing her leg to fall into the hole.  The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the County, alleging that her injuries resulted from its negligence with respect to the construction, installation, and maintenance of the water meter lid.  At trial, the plaintiff introduced evidence that the County had ignored the requirements of its own design manual regarding the selection and installation of the water meter lid.  The jury determined that the County was negligent, and found in favor of the plaintiff.  The County subsequently filed an appeal, arguing that it was protected from suit by governmental immunity.

While the state of Maryland has absolute immunity from claims with few exceptions, counties are immune only when performing governmental functions, as opposed to proprietary.  Generally, the government’s obligation to maintain and keep streets, sidewalks, footways, and adjoining areas in a reasonably safe condition has been treated as proprietary, whereas the maintenance of public parks and the like has been treated as a governmental function.  In the instant case, the water meter at issue was located on a grassy strip at the end of a sidewalk, but not on a paved location.

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Under the Maryland Fire and Rescue Company Act, entities that provide emergency services may not be held liable for simple negligence in a civil lawsuit.  However, they may face civil liability if their actions are grossly negligent.  In an October 1, 2018 Maryland wrongful death case, the jury found two paramedics were grossly negligent in responding to the decedent’s emergency.  Despite the jury verdict, the judge entered a judgment in favor of the defendants, concluding that the evidence was insufficient.  The plaintiffs ultimately prevailed on their appeal.

In the case, the decedent had experienced chest pains and called 911.  The defendants were dispatched to the decedent’s home and transported him to the hospital by ambulance.  In the ambulance, the defendants checked the decedent’s initial vital signs and concluded that he was in stable condition.  The defendants alerted hospital staff that the reason for the decedent’s visit was heartburn.  As the decedent was waiting in the emergency room with the defendants, he continued to complain of chest pains and soon became unconscious.  He was immediately treated by hospital staff but, despite life-saving efforts, passed away.  It was later revealed that he had died of a heart attack.

The surviving family members brought suit against the paramedics and the city, alleging gross negligence due to their emergency response.  On appeal, the plaintiffs contended that the trial court erred by entering judgment for the defendants on the basis of insufficient evidence of gross negligence.  The question for the appeals court, therefore, was whether or not the evidence at trial permitted only one inference, which was that the defendants were not grossly negligent.

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Personal injury cases arising out of asbestos exposure have a long history in Maryland, and may involve specific legislation enacted to protect the victims.  In a September 19, 2018 case, the family members of the decedent filed a Maryland wrongful death suit against two companies, alleging that the decedent contracted mesothelioma caused by exposure to asbestos.  The circuit court granted the defendant’s request for summary judgment based on the statute of repose, and the plaintiffs filed an appeal.

The decedent had installed and serviced boilers manufactured by the defendants.  The plaintiffs alleged that the decedent was exposed to the asbestos-containing rope, gaskets, cement, and putty supplied with the boilers.  The defendants, however, testified that they did not manufacture any of the parts that were packaged with the boilers, and moved for summary judgment.  In their response to the defendants’ motion, the plaintiffs failed to address the argument regarding the statute of repose.  When the motion was granted, the plaintiffs asked the court to reconsider and provided additional evidence.  The court denied the motion, and the plaintiffs appealed.

Maryland’s statute of repose grants immunity for all persons who might otherwise be held liable for a defect in an improvement to real property that occurred more than twenty years from the date of the improvement.  There are, however, exclusions where the statute of repose does not apply to bar a cause of action.  The statute does not apply to personal injury and wrongful death actions against a manufacturer or supplier, where the injury or death results from exposure to asbestos dust or fibers emitted prior to or during installation of an asbestos-containing product to an improvement to real property.  In addition, it does not apply to claims for personal injury and wrongful death caused by asbestos or an asbestos-containing product, where the defendant is a manufacturer of a product that contains asbestos.

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In Maryland, malpractice actions against health care providers may be subject to Maryland’s Health Care Malpractice Claim Act (Act).  The Act provides procedures and requirements that govern Maryland medical malpractice lawsuits, some of which differ from other areas of personal injury law.  In a September 19, 2018 malpractice case, the defendant appealed the jury’s verdict and award of $250,000 in damages in favor of the plaintiffs.  One of the arguments presented by the defendant was that the plaintiffs failed to present a medical expert with sufficient qualifications, as required under the Act.

The defendant in the case was an OB/GYN practice that had provided prenatal care to the plaintiffs during a high-risk pregnancy.  After recurring complications, the plaintiffs’ baby was born prematurely, at twenty-four weeks.  Sadly, she died just two days after her birth.  The plaintiffs filed suit against the that provided prenatal care to the plaintiffs and their infant, alleging medical malpractice and wrongful death claims.  After a trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiffs on their wrongful death claim.  The defendant appealed the matter to the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland.

The plaintiff in a Maryland medical malpractice must prove the following: (1) a duty requiring adherence to a standard of care; (2) a breach of the standard of care; (3) causation of the plaintiffs’ injury as a result of the breach; and (4) damages.  In virtually all medical malpractice claims, a plaintiff’s proof that the defendant breached the standard of care must be offered through the testimony of an expert witness.

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Childhood lead paint poisoning litigation can be complicated.  In an August 31, 2018 Maryland personal injury action, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland discussed the complexities of proving causation in lead paint cases.  The plaintiff in the case had resided in a house owned and managed by the defendants from his birth in 1997 until 2001.  He filed suit against the defendants alleging injuries resulting from lead paint poisoning.  At the conclusion of a five-day trial, the jury found in favor of the plaintiffs and awarded them over 2 million dollars in damages, which was ultimately reduced to approximately 1.5 million dollars.

The defendants appealed the verdict on multiple grounds, one of which was that the trial court erred by not granting the defendants’ motion for summary judgment on the plaintiff’s negligence claim.  The defendants argued that, at the time of their motion, there was no evidence that the plaintiff had been exposed to any lead-based paint hazards while residing at the defendants’ property.

In Maryland, when a plaintiff alleges negligence based on a violation of a lead paint statute or ordinance, the plaintiff has the burden to present sufficient facts to demonstrate that there was a violation of a law that was designed to protect a specific class of people that includes the plaintiff, and that the violation proximately caused the plaintiff’s injuries.  A violation of certain sections of the Baltimore City Housing Code enacted to protect children from lead paint poisoning satisfies the first requirement.

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In Maryland, a person who suffers an injury due to the negligence of another individual, business, or entity may seek compensation for their losses in a personal injury suit.  If the case goes to trial, the jury will usually decide whether the defendant was negligent based on the proof presented.  In an August 28, 2018 Maryland personal injury case, the Court of Special Appeals reviewed a jury verdict in favor of the plaintiff, who was injured during an event hosted by the defendant.  After the plaintiff won her case, the defendants appealed to the higher court.

The defendant in the case was the city board of school commissioners.  The board hosted a retirement party, where the plaintiff was one of several retirees being honored in the cafeteria of a local school.  To provide the retirees with celebratory “red carpet” treatment as their names were called, one of the board’s party organizers placed a red felt aisle runner on the cafeteria floor.  The runner began to bunch up after the first few retirees walked or danced down the aisle, and party organizers attempted to straighten out the runner.  The plaintiff was the seventh person to walk down the aisle.  As she reached the end of the runner, she stopped to take a slight bow.  The plaintiff then stood back up and attempted to continue walking, but fell to the ground.  The plaintiff suffered significant injuries to her hip, which required surgery and a lengthy hospital stay.

The plaintiff filed a lawsuit alleging negligence claims against the board and the individual party organizers.  After a three day trial, the jury found in favor of the plaintiff.  The defendant appealed arguing several grounds for reversal, one of which was that the plaintiff did not present sufficient evidence at trial for the case to be submitted to the jury.  Specifically, the defendant contended that the plaintiff failed to produce any evidence that the party volunteer who provided the aisle runner was negligent, including evidence that the volunteer was informed or had knowledge of any trip hazards associated with the aisle runner.

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