Due to a law enacted in the 1980s, Maryland plaintiffs are limited in the amount they are able to recover from municipalities across the state. According to an article by the Washington Post, this has led one woman to challenge the law that kept her from retaining the $11+ million award she received after a Prince George’s County police officer killed her husband while he was having a beer outside in Langley Park.

law-education-series-3-68918-mThe Facts of the Case

Evidently, the officer was off duty at the time and approached the woman’s husband because he was drinking in public. However, for some reason the confrontation escalated, and eventually the officer shot the man, killing him. The officer claimed that he was acting in self-defense, since the man was reaching for his gun. However, witnesses told a different story, explaining that the man never fought back and that the officer was the aggressor.

At Trial the Plaintiff Wins

At trial, the jury heard all the evidence and determined that the officer—as well as the County—was responsible for the wrongful death of the woman’s husband and returned a verdict in her favor for over $11 million.

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law-and-order-4b-977846-mWhen two parties enter into an out-of-court settlement, a contract is created by the two parties. This contract is typically a legally binding document that requires each party to do—or not do—certain things. For example, the most basic contract could be boiled down to something like the defendant agrees to pay the plaintiff a certain sum of money, and the plaintiff agrees to withdraw his or her lawsuit against the defendant and waive any future claims arising from that incident.

However, according to a recent report by the Baltimore Sun, all police brutality cases settled in the city come with one fairly uncommon term in the contract:  a confidentiality clause.

A confidentiality clause restricts the plaintiff from disclosing what happened with the reporters. This includes a prohibition against sharing any of the details of the settlement itself with the public, but the restriction goes further. Under Baltimore’s confidentiality clause, a plaintiff who accepts a settlement may not even discuss any of the facts or allegations of the underlying suit, essentially shielding government operations from the public eye.

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Earlier this month, a construction worker in New York who was injured on the job collected $5 million in compensation after accepting a settlement offered by his former employer and the property owner where the injury occurred.

construction-1-1338553-mAccording to one local news report, the accident occurred back in 2008 in Buffalo, New York, when an on-the-job fall caused the plaintiff to tear his rotator cuff and puncture his lung, and also gave him eight herniated discs. As a result of the fall, the plaintiff needed to undergo several follow-up corrective surgeries in order to get him as close to his previous condition as possible.

The plaintiff filed suit against both the general contractor that employed him, as well as the property owner where the fall occurred. However, at trial, the defendants asked the judge to dismiss the lawsuit, claiming, among other things, that the plaintiff’s injuries were not caused by the fall but were pre-existing at the time of the fall. They also argued that the plaintiff failed to take a safer available route while on the job.

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Earlier this month in Baltimore, the most winning Olympian pleaded guilty to driving under the influence. According to a recent report by one local news source, the swimmer was pulled over back in September of this year when he was seen crossing a double yellow line in the Fort McHenry Tunnel.

keys-707275-mThe arresting officer told the court that Phelps’ breath-alcohol content was .14, and that the legal limit in Maryland is .08. Phelps was also going 84 miles per hour in a zone that is designated as 45 miles per hour. This was Phelps’ second DUI offense in the past 10 years.

At sentencing, Phelps was given a jail sentence of 12 months. However, that sentence was suspended in favor of 18 months’ probation. While on probation, Phelps will not be permitted to drink alcohol. He was also ordered to do community service and must go 90 days without driving privileges.

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Earlier last month, a lead singer for the legendary pop band U2 was involved in a serious accident while riding his bicycle in Central Park in New York City. According to one report by Rolling Stone Magazine, the singer had to undergo a five-hour surgery, requiring 18 screws to be put into his shoulder and hand. He also fractured his orbital socket and his left arm.

spring-in-new-york-2-997425-mEvidently, the singer was riding his bike in Central Park when he attempted to avoid another cyclist. In doing so, he lost control of his bike and ended up crashing. He was immediately taken to the hospital, where doctors addressed his broken arm. Several days later, he underwent a surgery to repair a broken pinky finger.

The doctor describes the accident as a “high energy cycling accident” that was caused by Bono’s attempt to avoid another oncoming cyclist. He said that while the accident was extreme, and the singer’s condition was serious, he expects Bono to make an eventual full recovery. It is expected that Bono will require several months of rehab and recuperation time. It is unclear if his injuries will interfere with any of his tour dates.

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Earlier this week in Cleveland, Ohio, the family of a 12-year-old boy who was killed by police filed a lawsuit against the Department and the City, claiming that the officers’ negligent actions led to the death of their loved one. According to a report by one local news source, the incident occurred on the evening of November 22, when police responded to a report of a person with a gun on a playground.

gun-1428502-mEvidently, the responding officers pulled up right next to the child rather than parking farther away and approaching from a distance. A video from a nearby surveillance camera shows one of the officers shoot the boy within two seconds of exiting the car. According to the officers, they were responding to what they thought was the boy brandishing a firearm. In reality, it was an Airsoft gun that shoots non-lethal plastic pellets. The video shows that he wasn’t reaching for the gun.

The lawsuit alleges that the officers waited four minutes to call in for emergency responders after they shot the young boy. He was eventually taken to the hospital. However, he sadly died the next day.

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Earlier this year, we posted about a Maryland physician who was accused of molesting one of his patients. In a recent development in that case, the presiding judge determined that the case should be moved out of Allegany County—where it was originally filed—and moved to another forum in order to preserve the defendant doctor’s right to an impartial jury.

in-the-medical-lab-1237146-mAs it turns out, the defendant doctor is not only facing serious charges that may carry with them inherent bias, but he also has a previous conviction for a gun-point rape from Florida. Notwithstanding this conviction, he was somehow able to obtain a medical license in Maryland.

The judge cited the nature of the charges, the publicity of the case in Allegany County, and the publicity of the defendant doctor’s past criminal record as reasons to move the case outside the county. It is not yet clear which county will hear the case.

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Earlier this week in Frederick, three people died and another two were injured when a helicopter and an airplane collided in mid air. According to a report by one local news source, the collision occurred just after 3:30 in the afternoon near the Frederick Municipal Airport.

helicopter-1443925-mEvidently, a small plane was heading in towards the airport to land and the helicopter was conducting some kind of training mission when the two collided. The helicopter was leased to Advanced Flight School, a helicopter flight school. Since the accident, the school has suspended its operations.

The people on board the plane survived with minor injuries. However, all three passengers on the helicopter died as a result of the injuries they sustained in the accident. Upon arriving, investigators saw the small plane strung up in the trees, hanging. There was a parachute hanging from the trees as well. It may be that the parachute was key in saving the lives of one or both of the surviving passengers.

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Over the past year, GM has recalled over 26 million automobiles. Of those, several million recalls were issued due to a faulty ignition switch. Chief among the recalled vehicles were the Saturn Ion and the Chevrolet Cobalt. As a part of the recall, GM has promised to repair all the recalled vehicles free of charge for their owners.

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However, according to a recent article by the New York Times, owners are having a difficult time getting in to get the necessary repairs made. The article mentions the story of a 25-year-old New York woman who was killed when her 2006 Chevy Cobalt was involved in a terrible accident, killing the woman instantly. Evidently, the woman’s mother had taken the car into the dealership to have the recall taken care of twice in the past several months, but she was given two separate stories as to why the recall was not needed on her specific car.

Others recount similar stories about taking their recalled GM vehicles into a dealership to have the recalled part replaced and having the dealership tell them that it had “already been fixed,” or that they didn’t have the part, or that the necessary machine was not operational that day.

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Earlier last month, a Maryland jury awarded a man over $21 million after he was severely injured and permanently paralyzed in a workplace accident at a Pepco plant in Montgomery County. According to a report by the Washington Post, the man was working high up in the air on some scaffolding when he was struck by a transformer. The force of the collision sent the man eight feet into the air.

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Upon landing, the man snapped his spine, paralyzing him from the neck down. In addition to his paralysis, the man also received burns over 10% of his body because the transformer—which the worker had been told was discharged – was still powered on. The man sued Pepco for negligence.

The trial was not focused around whether Pepco was negligent. In fact, Pepco admitted its negligence. The only trial issue for the jury to determine was the amount of damages that would be appropriate for Pepco to pay out.

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