Maryland Upholds Non-Economic Damages Cap in Anne Arundel County Wrongful Death of Boy Who Drowned

The Court of Appeals has upheld a state law that limits how much plaintiffs can receive for pain and suffering. They issued their decision regarding Maryland’s damages cap in the Anne Arundel County wrongful death case involving Connor Freed, the 5-year-old boy who drowned in a swimming pool at the Crofton Country Club in 2006.

A jury had awarded Connor Freed’s parents, Thomas Freed and Debbie Neagle-Freed, about $4 million against DRD Pool Service Inc., the company that provided lifeguards to the pool. However, because of Maryland’s cap on non-economic damages, the payment was reduced to about $1 million. The Freeds then filed a claim contending that the cap was unconstitutional since it does not give equal protection to all people.

In its ruling, Maryland’s highest court said that the cap’s existence has a legitimate purpose as it keeps liability insurance affordable. The court did, however, side with the Freeds regarding their claim that the original jury should have been given the opportunity to consider additional damages for their son’s conscious pain and suffering prior to his death.

In June 2006, Connor was found floating face down in the country club pool. There was a lifeguard on duty at the time. There were also defibrillators available. However, the lifeguard was not trained to use one. In their Anne Arundel County drowning death complaint, the Freeds had argued that not only was the pool insufficiently staffed but also, the lifeguards were improperly trained.

Maryland Damages Cap Survives in Horrific Drowning Case, Forbes, September 24, 2010
Family Sues Country Club Where 5 Yr. Old Drowned, WJZ, July 20, 2010
Md. court upholds state cap on lawsuit payouts, Washington Examiner, September 24, 2010
In Maryland, Accidental Drowning Of Anne Arundel County 5-Year Old Renews Calls For Greater Pool Safety,, October 13, 2006
Related Web Resources:
Maryland State Law Library

DRD Pool Service Inc.

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