Maryland Appellate Court Considers the Cap on Judgments Against Municipalities

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.

The 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.

However, that is not the end of the story. A law passed decades ago allowed Prince George’s County to pay the woman only $400,000—roughly $200,000 for the wrongful death of her husband, and another $200,000 for the wrongful arrest and assault of her son, who was also involved.

The Plaintiff Appeals

Most recently, the plaintiff asked an appellate court to hear the case and decide if the limit on her recovery is permissible under the Maryland and United States Constitutions. If she is victorious, she can expect to receive the remainder of the $11 million award the jury determined she was entitled to.

The outcome of this case will likely be far-reaching throughout the personal injury world. Currently, the limitation on financial recovery applies not only to ordinary torts committed by the government, such as car accidents, but also to constitutional violations, such as the one suffered by the woman in this case. It remains to be seen how the court will rule. However, either way it will be a landmark decision.

Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Maryland accident of any kind, you may be entitled to monetary compensation based on the negligence of another party. This remains true if the defendant is a private citizen or a city, county, or state government. However, in cases against a municipality, there are certain steps that must be taken in order to preserve your right to recovery. It is best to discuss your case with a dedicated personal injury attorney before filing in order to preserve all your rights. Call 410-654-3600 to set up a free initial consultation with a dedicated and knowledgeable attorney today.

More Blog Posts:

Construction Worker Injured in Workplace Accident Receives Verdict of over $21 Million, Maryland Accident Law Blog, November 10, 2014.

Change of Venue Ordered in Medical Malpractice Case; Impartial Jury Concerns Cited, Maryland Accident Law Blog, December 1, 2014.

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