Maryland Court Applies “Damages Cap” to Police Brutality Case, Reducing Damages from over $11 Million to Just $400,000

Earlier this year, in a pivotal case regarding the application of damages caps to alleged violations of the Maryland State Constitution by state actors, one Maryland circuit court reduced the damages received by a deceased man’s estate from $11 million to just $400,000.

The Facts of the Case

Back in 2008, the deceased person was on his porch having a drink with a friend when a police officer drove by and suspected the men of drinking alcoholic beverages outside, which was against the law. The officer allegedly drove by twice before getting out of his car and approaching the men. As the men got up and went inside the apartment, the officer followed, using his master key to the apartment complex.

Once inside, accounts of what exactly occurred differ. However, what is known for certain is that one of the two men was killed and his son arrested after he came to his father’s aid.

The estate of the deceased man brought a case against the police officer in his individual capacity but also against Prince George’s County for the alleged infringement of his state constitutional rights.

At trial, the man’s estate received a jury verdict in excess of $11 million against both the officers and Prince George’s County. However, the County was successful in getting the court to reduce the damages it was responsible for, based on the Local Government Tort Claims Act (LGTCA), which acts to limit a local government’s liability in cases where it is accused of infringing on a citizen’s constitutional rights. Ultimately, the judgment against the County was reduced to $400,000.

On Appeal, the County Successfully Defends the Reduction

Before making its ruling, the court noted the precarious situation it was put in, essentially pitting the victim’s family and their well-being against the government’s need to effectively run and manage its people. In its lengthy 46-page opinion, the court seemed to have a difficult time coming to its conclusion. Ultimately, however, the court upheld the lower court’s reduction in damages, applying the LGTCA. In coming to its conclusion, the court looked to the plain language of the LGTCA and the legislative intent behind the LGTCA, essentially asking what the legislature intended when it passed the bill into law.

It is worth noting, however, the court did not reduce the damages owed by the police officer himself, since the LGTCA does not apply to the actions of individuals.

Have You Been Injured by a State Actor?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured by an employee of the state or federal government, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. However, naming government entities as defendants in personal injury suits presents a number of hurdles not usually present in run-of-the-mill cases, and therefore these cases should be handled by a law firm with ample experience in the field. The dedicated attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers have decades of combined experience litigating and winning cases against state and federal government entities. Call 410-654-3600 to set up a free initial consultation with an attorney today.

More Blog Posts:

Maryland Appellate Court Denies Hospital’s Appeal in Glen Burnie Birth Injury Case, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, March 24, 2015

One Dead, Dozens Injured in DC Metro Smoke Incident, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, January 16, 2015

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