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Under Maryland Courts and Judicial Proceedings Section 3-2C-02, a Maryland medical malpractice claim “shall be dismissed … if the claimant fails to file a certificate of a qualified expert with the court.” This requirement was initially implemented to deter the filing of frivolous medical malpractice lawsuits and to ensure that meritorious claims are heard expediently. However, over time the requirement has become the focus of significant litigation as medical professionals routinely attempt to use it as a defense to any claim made against them.

Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case discussing the expert-affidavit requirement. Ultimately, the court concluded that the alleged negligence of the medical professional was not “directly involved” or “proximate” to the procedure the plaintiff was undergoing. Thus, the court held that the requirement did not apply.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was scheduled to have a hysterectomy. Before the surgery began, the defendant anesthesiologist attempted to intubate the plaintiff. However, while the defendant was in the process of intubating the plaintiff, the power went out. While the lights were out, the defendant allegedly dropped a medical tool on the plaintiff’s tooth, chipping it.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a personal injury case discussing whether the defendant, the owner of a car repair shop, could be held liable for the plaintiff’s injuries. The court ultimately concluded that the defendant’s duty to maintain the shop in a reasonably safe condition was a non-delegable duty, and thus, the jury’s decision to hold the defendant partially responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries was proper.

The case is important for Maryland slip-and-fall accident victims in that it discusses what a property owner’s non-delegable duties are and under what circumstances they may be transferred to another party.

The Facts of the Case

The defendant owned an auto repair shop. He leased a portion of the shop to another mechanic but maintained an office on location and continued to use the shop. The defendant was the only one with keys to the shop, and the mechanic could not enter or use the shop without the defendant being present.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case dealing with the spoliation doctrine, which allows for a court to impose sanctions against a party who fails to preserve relevant evidence. The case presents an interesting issue for Maryland car accident victims in that it illustrates the range of consequences a party may face for failing to preserve evidence that is relevant to a pending legal proceeding.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was the surviving husband of a woman who was killed in a car accident. According to the court’s opinion, the woman’s vehicle hydroplaned while driving over a portion of the road that was flooded due to a clogged storm drain. The plaintiff filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city that was charged with maintaining the storm drain. It was undisputed that the storm drain was on city property, although the city believed it to be on county property.

After the woman’s vehicle was towed to a scrap yard, the scrap yard owner sent the plaintiff a letter indicating that the vehicle was incurring daily storage fees. Shortly after receipt of this letter, the plaintiff retained counsel, who sent a letter to the scrap yard requesting the vehicle be preserved. Counsel followed up with a telephone call the next week, and was not told that preservation of the vehicle was dependent on the payment of fees. Counsel instructed the scrap yard to direct any questions to him.

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By and large, dogs are loyal companions and when well-trained present little danger to those whom they come into contact with while out in public. However, each year hundreds of people are bitten or attacked by a dog. For the most part, these Maryland dog bite injuries are the result of irresponsible dog owners who fail to provide their pets with the necessary care or supervision. However, some dogs are naturally more aggressive and may attack passersby without warning.

As a general rule, a dog owner can only be held liable for injuries caused by their animal if they knew or had reason to know that the animal was dangerous. Historically, Maryland applied the “one bite” rule, meaning that an owner was only presumed to know of a dog’s propensity for violence if the dog had bitten (or attempted to bite) someone in the past. However, in 2014 the Maryland legislature changed the state’s dog-bite liability statute.

Currently, Maryland employs a strict liability framework when determining if an owner can be held liable for injuries caused by their dog. This means that a dog bite victim will not need to establish that the owner was negligent in any way or knew of their dog’s propensity for violence. Under Maryland Code § 3-1901(a), evidence that a dog attacked another person creates a “rebuttable presumption that the owner knew or should have known that the dog had vicious or dangerous propensities.” Thus, under § 3-1901, an owner will be presumed to be liable for the injuries caused by their animals unless the owner can provide evidence that they did not know of the dog’s dangerous propensities.

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a personal injury case brought by a man whose finger was severed while working with a construction loader. The lawsuit was filed against the company that leased the loader to his employer and required the court to determine whether a construction loader is a dangerous instrumentality. Ultimately, the court concluded that the defendant lessor could be liable under that state’s vicarious liability laws because the loader was a dangerous instrumentality. If you have sustained an accident on a construction site, contact a Maryland construction accident attorney.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was contracted to help clear a vacant lot of debris. The lot’s owner leased a construction loader from the defendant equipment company to assist the plaintiff and his team by clearing the lot.

Evidently, at one point the plaintiff climbed inside the loader to pack down loose debris. While the plaintiff was inside, another employee used the loader to pick up and deposit a large tree stump. As the stump came into the loader, it crushed the plaintiff’s finger.

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When someone is injured in a Maryland DUI accident, it is conceivable that there are multiple liable parties. Of course, the motorist who was driving drunk is the most obvious party; however, it would seem logical that the individual or establishment that overserved the intoxicated driver also bears some responsibility.

The concept of holding third parties liable for a negligent driver’s actions is not unheard of, and courts impose third-party liability all the time in cases involving a negligent employee. In fact, many states also impose third-party liability in the drunk-driving context through statutes known as dram-shop and social-host liability laws. At the heart of both of these claims is the concept that a person – either acting in their individual capacity or in their capacity as an employee for a bar or restaurant – should know that overserving alcohol to a customer puts others in danger.

In Maryland, however, courts have rejected both dram-shop and social-host liability claims. As recently as 2013, the Court of Appeals of Maryland heard a dram-shop case, issuing an opinion including a lengthy discussion of the societal and legal considerations of a court adopting such a doctrine.

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Recently, an appellate court issued a written opinion in a car accident case raising an important issue that comes up regularly in Maryland personal injury cases that are filed against a government agency or official. Specifically, the case presented the court with the opportunity to discuss whether a police officer’s actions were considered a discretionary act. Ultimately, the court determined that the officer’s actions were not covered under discretionary-act immunity, and permitted the plaintiff’s case to proceed against the city.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was injured after his vehicle was struck by a police cruiser that was responding to an emergency call. According to the court’s recitation of the facts, the police cruiser made a left turn against a red traffic signal, colliding with the plaintiff’s vehicle. It was agreed that the officer would not have been able to see oncoming traffic as he approached the intersection, but it was disputed whether the officer’s lights and sirens were on at the time he entered the intersection.

The plaintiff subsequently brought a personal injury claim against the city that employed the officer, arguing that the city was vicariously liable for the officer’s negligent actions. The city successfully argued to the trial court that it was entitled to government immunity because the officer was engaged in a discretionary act that was within the scope of his employment at the time of the accident. The plaintiff appealed.

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Recently, a federal appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case discussing whether a casino could be held liable for the injuries sustained by an independent contractor when he fell from a ladder while working on the building’s roof. Ultimately, the court concluded that the plaintiff presented sufficient evidence to show that the defendant casino was in “operational control” over the plaintiff’s actions.

The case raises an important issue that frequently arises in many Maryland personal injury cases involving claims filed by independent contractors or claims based on an independent contractor’s negligence.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff worked for a maintenance company that was contracted by the defendant casino to clean the casino’s air ducts. The air ducts were located on the roof of the casino, and prior to the beginning of the contract the casino specified where the maintenance workers would access the roof.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case discussing an important issue that frequently comes up in Maryland product liability cases involving defective or unsafe food products. The case required the court to determine the appropriate standard by which a plaintiff’s food-poisoning case is held to at the summary judgment level. Ultimately, the court concluded that food-poisoning cases are no different from any other type of negligence case, and plaintiffs bringing this type of case should not be held to a higher burden. If you believe you’ve experienced an injury as a result of a defect in some mass-produced product, it’s beneficial to have a Maryland products liability attorney at your side to evaluate your case.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs were two wedding guests who became very ill after eating the food at a wedding rehearsal dinner that was catered by the defendant restaurant. In support of their claim, the plaintiffs presented evidence showing that one of the plaintiffs tested positive for salmonella, that other wedding guests also tested positive for salmonella, that other guests began feeling ill around the same time as the plaintiffs, and that a total of 16-20 other guests reported eventually feeling ill.

The defendant restaurant moved for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiffs were unable to establish that their illness was caused by the defendant’s food. In support of its position, the restaurant argued that the plaintiffs ate food that was prepared by others around the same time that they consumed the defendant’s food, that the plaintiffs did not experience any symptoms until three days after they ate the food, and that there were many other wedding guests who ate the food but did not become ill.

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As a general rule, the law requires that all land owners maintain their property in a reasonably safe condition, and warn their guests about hazards that may not be evident. Under Maryland premises liability law, the duty a landowner owes her guest depends on several circumstances; however, Maryland businesses owe their customers the highest duty of care.

While premises liability law may seem straightforward, it can often get complicated in its application. For example, while it’s beyond question that a business owner is responsible to maintain their store in a reasonably safe condition, what about the approach to and from the store?

A recent state appellate opinion discusses a plaintiff’s case against a store for an injury occurring in the store’s parking lot.

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