Strict Legal Standards May Result in Legislative Action

We talked earlier about a case decided in July against the family of a 10-year-old girl killed by a drunk driver. In that matter, the Court of Appeals of Maryland held laws did not exist to hold a tavern responsible for serving alcohol to a clearly intoxicated man who later caused the deadly accident.

Another case was presented to the Court of Appeals of Maryland in July that involved a similar difficult legal standard in our state.

In Coleman vs. Soccer Association of Columbia, the plaintiff, James Coleman, was injured as he assisted with a youth soccer practice on a school soccer field. After kicking a goal, Mr. Coleman jumped up to grab the metal crossbar of the soccer goal. Unknown to Mr. Coleman, the goal had not been properly secured, and the equipment fell upon Mr. Coleman, striking him fully in the face with enough force to require multiple surgeries and three titanium plate implants.

The jury trial in Coleman found the following:

  • The Soccer Association of Columbia was negligent.
  • The negligence of the Soccer Association of Columbia caused the injuries of Mr. Coleman.
  • Mr. Coleman was negligent and contributed to his own injuries.

Because of the absolute standard of contributory negligence in Maryland, the trial court barred Mr. Coleman from any recovery for his serious injury. The Court of Appeals of Maryland, while recognizing its authority to change the law, declined to do so.

In his dissent, Justice Glenn T. Harrell, Jr. took his fellow jurists to task, describing pure contributory negligence as a dinosaur feeding on the last four states, including Maryland, in this country that enshrine an all or nothing standard of negligence.

On the heels of refusal by the judiciary to modify this stringent standard of contributory negligence, Maryland legislators may change the laws to provide additional protection to injured parties in this state. If injured by the negligence of others, always seek reputable legal advice.

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