When an accident victim wants to initiate a Maryland personal injury case, they must file a complaint. A complaint is a legal document that commences a lawsuit. In Maryland, a complaint must contain the legal justification for the plaintiff’s claim, including the essential facts and legal justification for what the plaintiff requests. Additionally, Maryland law requires that a plaintiff identify each party by name, rather than file the claim against a “John Doe” defendant.
One of the most important aspects of the complaint is the legal justification for the plaintiff’s claim, including the statement of facts that support the plaintiff’s justification. While the federal system allows for the more relaxed form of notice-pleading, Maryland is a fact-pleading jurisdiction. In Maryland, a plaintiff must present a “simple, concise, and direct” explanation of their claim.
If a plaintiff fails to properly plead their complaint, the defendant can move to dismiss the case. A recent case illustrates the importance of correctly pleading a case.
The Facts of the Case
According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was visiting a local library. While the plaintiff was making some copies, the bottom drawer of the copy machine “flew wide open,” coming into contact with the plaintiff’s leg. This caused the plaintiff to trip and fall on both of her knees. The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the library.
The plaintiff filed two distinct claims against the library. Specifically, the plaintiff claimed, “without any warning, the bottom door of the machine came loose and suddenly flew wide opened [sic] causing [her] to trip and fall on her both knees.” The plaintiff also claimed that the library owned the copier, and “had a duty to use reasonable care in maintaining the machine to ensure that it was safe for use by patrons.”
The library argued that the plaintiff could not recover on her claim because she failed to plead a recognizable cause of action. The trial court agreed, dismissing the plaintiff’s case. The plaintiff appealed.
On appeal, the court reversed the lower court’s decision, allowing the plaintiff’s case to proceed towards trial. The court explained that, to state a claim of negligence, a plaintiff must prove “(1) a duty to the plaintiff; (2) the defendant’s breach of that duty; (3) injury to the plaintiff arising from the defendant’s breach; and (4) damage caused by the injury to the plaintiff as a result of the defendant’s breach of duty.”
Here, the court determined that the plaintiff’s complaint covered each of the required elements. The court noted that the plaintiff stated her status as an invitee at the library, the location of the incident, as well as a sufficient description of what happened and the legal basis for her claim. That being the case, the court concluded that the lower court erred in dismissing the plaintiff’s case.
Have You Been Injured on Another’s Property?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured while on another’s property, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for the injuries you have sustained. At the Maryland personal injury law firm, Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC, we represent injury victims and their families in all types of injury claims, including Maryland premises liability cases, wrongful death claims, and incidents of medical malpractice. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation today, call 410-654-3600.