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Maryland Rejects Challenge to Damage Cap in Wrongful Death Suit

For now, at least, non-economic damage caps will remain in place for Maryland plaintiffs. Earlier this year, the Maryland Court of Appeals upheld the state's limit of $725,000 in non-economic damages. In doing so, the court rejected the claim that such a cap on damages violated the constitutional right of plaintiffs to a trial by jury.

The case in question concerned the 2006 death of a five-year-old boy in a local swimming pool. The parents filed a wrongful death suit and were awarded $4 million by a Maryland jury. However, due to state caps on non-economic damages ($665,000 at the time of the case), the judge was obliged to award the parents $1.3 million instead.

Challenging the constitutionality of the law, the parents argued that the restriction limited the power of a jury in determining adequate and fair compensation for loss and suffering. By limiting the jurors' power to find for the plaintiff(s), the law violated the plaintiff's right to trial by jury.

Similar arguments have been raised in other states and, in some cases, judges have found that the caps were unconstitutional and had them thrown out. In Illinois and Georgia, for example, judges have ruled that such damage caps violated the right to trial by jury.

In Maryland, the plaintiff in a wrongful death case will continue to be limited to $725,000 in non-economic damages. If more than one plaintiff is involved, the cap is limited to 1.5 times $725,000. As reported on About Lawsuits, jurors are not informed of the cap prior to rendering their verdict.

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