Articles Posted in Featured Lawsuits

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Baltimore City settled a wrongful death and survival action by Freddie Gray’s family for $6.4 million.  The criminally unfair Maryland Local Government Tort Claim Act would have capped these claims at $400,000.  So Baltimore City settled for a whopping $6 million more than the maximum value of the case.   Said another way, the settlement was 16 times the cap for personal injury and wrongful death claims had this case taken the standard path and been heard by a Baltimore City jury.

High profile cases mold public perception in Baltimore and throughout Maryland about our civil justice system.  People form impressions on how well the system performs when placing a dollar amount on personal injury and wrongful death cases.

On some level, Freddie Gray is a Baltimore specific McDonald’s coffee case.  It has now been 24 years since Stella Liebeck spilled coffee on herself at a McDonald’s drive-through in New Mexico and that case continues to inform prospective jurors on how personal injury cases actually work.  Freddie Gray may leave a similar legacy in Baltimore.  What will that legacy be?  What misimpressions will juror carry into the jury box as a result of this case?  I believe there are unintended consequences to this settlement that will be felt for years.

I think these are the Freddy Gray takeaway messages:

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Maryland personal injury lawyers are not permitted to say that they specialize in personal injury law.  This may soon change.Law Book

The Maryland Court of Appeals is considering amendments to Rule 7.4 of the Lawyers’ Rules of Professional Conduct that would permit a Maryland personal injury attorney — or any lawyer for that matter — who has been certified as a specialist in a particular area of law to hold themselves out to the public as a specialist.

What would the attorney’s qualifications be for specialization?  I think this may be the challenge that led the court to defer ruling on this issue, which they did last week.

[2018 Update: I DO specialize in personal injury law!  We are now allowed to make this claim.]

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There are an unbelievable number of variables involved in arriving at a settlement value for a personal injury case.  Compensation offers varyMoney and gold Scale of Justice wildly because there are so many different factors that have different weights attached to them.

But assuming there is no issue about the amount of money available* to pay on the claim,  the single most reliable predict of settlement value is the type of injury.  There are two key factors to consider when looking at the type of injury.

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scales2Our Memorial Day weekend got a good kickoff with a $5.2 million verdict in Baltimore in an emergency room misdiagnosis medical malpractice case.

I can’t start out the facts of this case without pointing out how amazing our client and his family were and are.  Just a great loyal family.  They came in and out of the courtroom during the two-week trial, including six of his seven siblings.   His elderly parents were there for the closing too, along with one of his nieces.    I have four small kids.  When they are older, I want us to all be as close as that family.   They are great people that love each other and they love God. Which means they have 95% of life covered when they wake up in the morning.

Facts of the Case

Malpractice case dismissed

Maryland appellate court kicks malpractice case

Before the holidays, the Court of Special Appeals issued a new opinion dealing with medical malpractice actions.  The case, Puppolo, v. Adventist Healthace, Inc., et al., is a perfect example of how difficult it can be to litigate a medical malpractice claim when you don’t understand and/or abide by the procedural and statutory “rules” Maryland has in place.  (You can read the case here.)  I know that slogging through statutes can be really tedious and boring, but when it comes to med mal, there are no excuses.  You’ve just gotta do it.  Maybe this cautionary tale case will shed some light… Continue reading

gavel court houseThe Maryland Court of Appeals decided Espina v. Prince George’s County  last week.  The opinion is not a good one if you care about justice.  

I have written here two times how awful governmental immunities are.   But I think the topic is inexhaustible, like Doris Kearns Goodwin digging even deeper into Lincoln’s life.  The unfairness of protecting government when they hurt someone is just plain wrong.  In 2014, they just don’t make any sense. Virtually everyone agrees they lead to grave injustice.  Yet no one really cares. Continue reading

badfaithlaw

California insurance law is far more generous than ours in Maryland

I’m glad to say that our firm has had a number of verdicts in recent years that exceeded the insurance policy of the at-fault driver.   In almost all of these cases – there is one exception  – we made a demand for the insurance policy limits.    Why?  Because we knew they would not pay the policy limits and we were trying to set up our bad faith case after an excess verdict.

Insurance companies have a duty to their insured try to settle a case within policy limits if it is reasonable to do so.  In every Maryland case we have had, the “reasonable to do so” never gets flushed out because the insurance company does the right thing and pays the policy.
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taxiuninsured

Can you make a UM claim against a taxi?

Question: I am a New Jersey resident who was in a car accident taking a cab back to BWI airport.  The taxi cab driver was probably speeding the accident was not his fault – someone just pulled out on us.  I saw the whole thing.  The driver who caused this mess had insurance with Maryland Automobile Insurance Fund which I’m told will have little insurance coverage.  The taxi cab company told me they have no uninsured motorist insurance.  Is this actually true?  Someone told me that every car has uninsured motorist coverage and that the coverage limits are the same as the liability limits.   Is this true?

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allstatecounsel

How much does Allstate pay outside counsel?

The answer in Maryland appears to be around $135 an hour for a senior lawyer.

Here’s how I know. One of my colleagues here was in court yesterday and saw a motions hearing.  This issue was unbelievably petty if I do say so myself. Plaintiff’s lawyer failed to show for a deposition because he overslept, forgot, or something. Totally innocent.  He said he was sorry.  Allstate’s counsel – outside counsel, not in-house – wanted $500 in sanctions for having to appear at the deposition.  Why so petty?  I can’t tell you.  But I do know that while there are a lot of insurance defense lawyers that are wonderful people, it is fair to say that they blow past all other professions in the number of people per capita who would say, “I’ve enjoyed this dinner with you; now let’s go though this check line by line and figure out who owes what” after dinner with the neighbors.

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