The Court of Appeals of Maryland agreed this week to hear a case challenging the constitutionality of Maryland's cap on noneconomic damages. The case was originally tried before a jury in Anne Arundel County, who awarded more than $4 million to the parents of a child who drowned in a swimming pool at the Crofton Country Club in 2006. The trial judge ruled, however, that there was no evidence supporting the claim that the child suffered conscious pain and suffering before his death. The child's parents took an appeal of that decision, and the Maryland Court of Special Appeals reversed, and allowed the pain and suffering damages at a capped amount. The defendant, D.R.D. Pool Service, Inc., requested review by Maryland's top court.
The parents cross petitioned the Court of Appeals for review of the constitutionality of the cap and the court agreed to hear argument on that issue. This is the first time in nearly 15 years that the Court of Appeals has heard argument on the constitutionality of the cap. However, in the past year, the Court has agreed to hear two other cases involving whether the cap applies to cases brought under the Maryland Consumer Protection Act, and also, whether the cap applies to medical malpractice claims where arbitration has been waived.
The lawyers at Belsky, Weinberg & Horowitz will continue to monitor developments in this and other appellate cases and will update our readers as issues or events dictate. For more information or for a free legal consultation, please contact our firm.
DRD Pool Service, Inc. v. Thomas Freed, et al. - Case No. 104, September Term 2009. (petition and cross-petition)
ISSUES - CONSTITUTIONAL LAW - (1) WHETHER A CLAIM FOR CONSCIOUS PAIN AND SUFFERING IN A SURVIVORSHIP ACTION CAN BE SUPPORTED SOLELY BY AN EXPERT OPINION IN THE ABSENCE OF CASE SPECIFIC INDEPENDENT OBJECTIVE EVIDENCE? (2) IS THERE ANY RATIONAL BASIS FOR THE COURT TO CONTINUE TO COUNTENANCE THE DISCRIMINATION AGAINST THE MOST SERIOUSLY INJURED NON-MEDICAL MALPRACTICE TORT CLAIMANTS THAT THE APPLICATION OF MD'S STATUTORY CAP ON NON-ECONOMIC DAMAGES CAUSES WHERE THERE IS NO EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT THE LEGISLATURE'S PRESUMPTION THAT THE CAP RESULTS IN LOWER LIABILITY INSURANCE PREMIUMS?