Articles Posted in Maryland Case Law

Earlier last month, the Court of Appeals of Maryland decided a case that may have a significant impact for anyone who had contact with equipment containing asbestos and has subsequently been diagnosed with a serious illness. In the case, May v. Air & Liquid Systems Corporation, the court allowed the plaintiff’s case to proceed against the defendant manufacturer even though the asbestos-containing part causing the plaintiff’s injuries was not manufactured by the defendant.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff in the case is the widow of a man who served in the Navy between the years of 1956 and 1976. During her husband’s tenure in the Navy, he was a machinist who worked on pumps that were manufactured by the defendant. At some point after his service, the plaintiff’s husband was diagnosed with mesothelioma that was a result of his coming into contact with asbestos that was contained in the gaskets of the pump.

The gaskets, however, were replacement parts and were not manufactured by the defendant, but by a third party not present in this lawsuit. The man’s wife filed a lawsuit based on the legal theories of strict products liability and failure to warn. It was not contested that the pump’s manual made no mention of the dangers of asbestos.

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Earlier this month, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals decided a case that will likely have implications for any plaintiff bringing a case alleging they were injured by the use of lead-based paint in a residence. In the case, Barr v. Rochkind, the plaintiff was a woman who suffered lead poisoning while living in a residence owned by the defendant. The tenant filed suit against the landlord, arguing that the landlord should be responsible for her injuries and medical treatment.

At trial, the plaintiff conceded that there was no way she was going to be able to provide any direct evidence that the the defendant’s residence contained lead paint. However, she asked the court to infer that it did, based on circumstantial evidence. Specifically, the plaintiff wanted to prove that the home contained lead paint by submitting medical tests showing that the level of lead in her blood rose 33% while she was living in the home.

The court discussed the general principles of negligence first, noting that in order for a defendant to be found liable, the plaintiff must show that the defendant owed them a duty to protect the plaintiff from injury, that the defendant breached that duty, and that the plaintiff suffered some actual injury that was caused by the defendant’s breach.

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A recent case in front of the Maryland Court of Appeals affirmed a judgment favorable to an accident victim’s insurance company, limiting the victims’ overall damages. Back in 2009, a man and his wife from Waldorf were taking a walk through their neighborhood when a car backed up out of a driveway and struck the couple.

As a result of the accident, both the man and his wife sustained serious injuries. The man sustained a traumatic brain injury, as well as injuries to his head, neck, and limbs. He was taken to a rehabilitation center, where he died about 18 months later. The man’s wife also sustained injuries in the accident, although not as serious as her husband.

In 2010, the couple filed suit against the driver and his insurance company. At the time of the accident, the couple also had their own insurance coverage, through GEICO, which had a policy limit of $300,000 per person and $300,000 per accident. The couple entered into a settlement agreement with the driver’s insurance company for $100,000 each and then filed an underinsured-motorist claim under their own insurance company, seeking to recover the entire $300,000 that their policy covered.

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