$90 Million Wrongful Death Verdict in Prince George’s County = $100,000

When I read a newspaper article, I assume it is true. Why I do this defies logic and reason.

Picture of Prince George's County Court House

Prince George’s County Circuit Courthouse

A little paper near my home with a limited budget wrote an article on a pedestrian accident wrongful death case in Prince George’s County. You probably never heard of the paper. It is called the Washington Post.  Owned by up and comer Jeff Bezos.

The Post writes an article on a $90 million verdict in this case. You should read the comments – you have to read the comments – about the case. People are outraged!

The article left out one important detail that could have nipped this conversation in the bud: there is a $100,000 cap on the claim. If there was not, there would have been a $680,000 cap.

It is crazy that the Washington Post can’t even reference the possibility the County will not be forking over the full $90 million.

Are they lacking this level of accuracy when it comes to, say, North Korea. “Tensions are increasing as North Korea aims new mid-range missiles at Seoul.” Do you think they leave out supporting facts like, “The missiles are armed with water.”

I get the Baltimore Sun, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and probably 10 different news magazines. Everything except for the Post rarely gets more than a passing glance. So it is particularly scary that my go-to source is putting out an article like this that is so unbelievably out of extent as to make the entire article more uninformative than informative for readers. If you are a layperson trying to understand our civil justice system in Maryland or even what will actually happen in this case, you would be better off not reading this article. That is a sad commentary.

I realize newspapers need to sell papers. So I tolerate it when they bury the lead and put it at the bottom of an article like this “This case is capped at $100,000 so after attorneys’ fee, this poor family will get less than $60,000 for the loss of their dead daughter.” But we don’t even get that here.

“How Much Did The Ask For?” Problem

Maryland used to have a related problem when it came to the amount of money sought in a lawsuit.   “Woman sues for $100 million because she fractured her pinky toe” was a common newspaper headline.  These headlines all painted the same picture: greedy plaintiff looking to get something that they don’t deserve through the civil justice system.  Never mind that woman and often people who are killed by the reckless conduct of a doctor are usually capped under $1 million in any recovery they could get under Maryland law.   Never mind that that amount of money sought in a case might be the most irrelevant part of a victim’s claim.

Now, Maryland has a new law that puts this mostly in check.  You no longer ask for an amount other than asking that it be more than $75,000 in serious injury or death cases.  Why just mostly in check?  Because too many lawyers do not know the law exists.  So they keep filing suits for $100 million and newspapers like the Baltimore Sun and the Washington Post will continue to gleefully publish this as if it any reflection upon the case.

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