Litigation in Brief - Winter 2018

By Matthew J. Gannett
Under the Maryland Rules of Evidence, character evidence is generally not admissible to prove that the person acted in accordance with that character trait.  For instance, in a motor vehicle case, a Plaintiff may not present evidence that the Defendant is a terrible driver in order to convince the jury that the Defendant negligently caused the accident.
Recent Developments - Maryland
In University of Maryland Medical System Corp., et al. v. Kerrigan, et al., the Plaintiffs, B.K. and his parents, Kimberly and Michael Kerrigan (“Plaintiffs”), residents of Talbot County, filed a medical malpractice claim against seven defendants: three medical corporations and four individual doctors. The malpractice claim was based on the defendants’ alleged treatment of B.K.’s condition.
The Plaintiffs, five individuals, all claimed they were exposed to lead-based paint at a property owned by the Salvation Army and located at 1114 North Calvert Street in Baltimore City, Maryland.  Plaintiffs resided at the property in years ranging from 1995 to 2001 and all claimed elevated blood lead levels and permanent brain damage as a result of their alleged exposure to deteriorated lead-based paint.
In Davis v. Armacost, the Court of Appeals held that the trial court erred in giving the jury instructions based on general negligence that referenced the conduct of a “reasonable person,” rather than based on medical negligence that referenced physician defendant’s “similarly skilled peers.” The Court reasoned that this error heightened the duty that defendant owed to plaintiff and also invited the jury to disregard the opinions of the testifying experts.
Recent Developments - Virginia
While most people were enjoying some holiday downtime, the Virginia Supreme Court made a very important ruling in Emerald Point LLC v. Hawkins that will impact many areas of civil litigation.  On December 28, 2017, the justices overturned a $4.1 million verdict in favor of apartment tenants harmed by carbon monoxide poisoning and remanded the case back to the trial level.
The Virginia Court of Appeals recently heard an appeal from a Workers’ Compensation Commission ruling regarding the medical necessity of an employee’s requested “running blade.”  The claimant’s doctors testified that the blade would improve the claimant’s quality of life and would aid the claimant in athletic activities.
Recent Developments - District of Columbia
In the case of Phillip Battle v. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority Intervenor, the D.C. Court of Appeals considered whether an employer had rebutted the claim of a workplace injury by the worker’s compensation claimant.  Under the D.C. Worker’s Compensation Act, if one theory of employment causation has the potential to result in or contribute to the disability suffered, the presumption is that the disability is compensable under worker’s compensation.
Mr. Nwokwu was employed by Allied Barton, a security services company. Initially, he was assigned to a particular location, but was removed from that work site by Allied Barton after a supervisor reported that he had been sleeping at his post.  There were multiple versions of what happened next, but it is undisputed that Mr. Nwokwu had a temporary two week position through Allied Barton between the removal from the first location and his termination.

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