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Espina, et al. v. Prince George’s County, et al.

August 5, 2020

Plaintiffs, Decedent’s Wife, Son, and Estate, filed suit against Prince George’s County and an off-duty Prince George’s County Police Officer after Decedent was killed following a physical altercation with the Officer which concluded in the Officer firing his service weapon at the Decedent, and ultimately causing his death.  A jury found, among other things, that both Decedent and Decedent’s son’s rights under Article 24 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights Act were violated and awarded Plaintiffs in excess of eleven million dollars in damages.  Prince George’s County filed a Motion for Reconsideration as to the verdict amount.  The court reduced the award against Prince George’s County to $405,000 based on the court’s interpretation of the Local Government Tort Claims Act.  The award represented $200,000 for Decedent’s constitutional claim, $200,000 for Decedent’s Son’s constitutional claim, and $5,000 for Decedent’s Son’s economic damages.  On appeal, the Court of Special Appeals affirmed the trial court’s reduction in the jury award, holding that the Local Government Tort Claims Act applied to all tortious actions, including violations of constitutional claims.