Plaintiff Appeals Summary Judgment Granted in Favor of Security Officer in Maryland Personal Injury Case

In Maryland, an individual may seek damages for personal injuries caused by another person by taking legal action.  In a December 4, 2019 opinion, the Court of Special Appeals reviewed a personal injury case arising out of an altercation between the security officer of a restaurant bar and one of its patrons.  The matter was brought to the court on appeal of the lower court’s decision granting summary judgment in favor of the defendants.

The plaintiff in the case had been drinking at the restaurant bar with four of his friends.  After the plaintiff’s friends left the bar intoxicated, they began breaking glass bottles in the parking lot.  Three bouncers approached them, including the defendant, who was a state police trooper currently working a second job as a security officer of the restaurant.  At that moment, the plaintiff was forcibly removed from the bar by another bouncer.  The defendant approached the plaintiff and asked him to leave.  They began to argue, and the defendant executed a takedown maneuver that caused the plaintiff to hit his head on the pavement and fracture his temporal bone.

The plaintiff filed a suit against the restaurant, the property owners, and several other defendants, including the trooper.  He asserted multiple personal injury claims against the defendants for negligence and excessive force.  After the witnesses were deposed, the circuit court granted the defendants motions for summary judgment.  One of the issues on appeal was whether the circuit court properly concluded that the trooper’s force was not excessive.

In an excessive force claim under the Maryland Declaration of Rights, as well as claims of battery and gross negligence, the court focuses on the objective reasonableness of the officer’s conduct, in light of the facts and circumstances confronting the officer, without regard to their underlying intent or motivation.  In assessing whether the use of force is objectively reasonable, Maryland courts consider whether the suspect posed an immediate threat to the safety of the officers or others.

The trooper in the case had testified in his deposition that the plaintiff threatened to stab him.  The plaintiff argued that the issue of whether the threats had been made was in dispute, as no other witnesses had heard the exchange between the plaintiff and trooper.  The appeals court concluded that the witnesses’ inability to hear the conversation did not amount to an affirmative repudiation of the trooper’s testimony, so as to create an issue of material fact.  The appeals court went on to affirm summary judgment, holding that the lower court did not err in finding that the trooper did not use excessive force.

If you have suffered a personal injury due to the actions of another person or business, you may be able to seek compensation for your damages.  At Foran & Foran, P.A., our Maryland negligence attorneys can provide legal guidance after an accident or injury.  We represent plaintiffs in personal injury lawsuits, wrongful death cases, medical malpractice actions, and other legal claims.  Request a free consultation with an experienced injury lawyer by calling (301) 441-2022 or contacting Foran & Foran online.