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Maryland High Court to Review Parental Immunity for Wrongful Death


The Court of Appeals of Maryland has decided to review whether parents are immune from wrongful death lawsuits concerning their children, according to an article by The Daily Record. Referred to as the doctrine of parent-child immunity, Maryland law prohibits children from suing their parents in most circumstances.

In terms of factual background, this case involves the death of a young boy. The boy’s mother served as his legal guardian, and his father had visitations rights. The boy’s parents were never married and did not share a family home.

During a visit at his father’s residence, the boy went swimming in the pool. Apparently, the father was not paying close attention to his son. Eventually, the father went to the swimming pool to check on his son. Unfortunately, he was too late. The young boy had already drowned in the pool.

As the personal representative of the boy’s estate, the mother decided to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit against the father. Essentially, the mother claimed that the father was negligent and, thus, responsible for the young boy’s death. Counsel for the mother argued that the parent-child immunity doctrine did not survive a child’s death.

The mother’s lawsuit proceeded to trial in the Circuit Court for Howard County. After both parties presented their arguments and corresponding evidence, the judge decided to allow the case to continue. In other words, the circuit court judge ruled that parent-child immunity ended with the child’s death.

The father appealed the circuit court decision, asking the Maryland Court of Special Appeals to review this case. The appellate court agreed to hear the appeal and considered the positions of both side. Ultimately, the appellate court agreed with the circuit court decision, ruling that the parent-child immunity doctrine did not apply to this case.

In response to the circuit and appellate court decisions, the father filed an appeal with the highest court in the state — the Court of Appeals of Maryland. The father’s legal counsel argued that the parent-child immunity doctrine should survive a child’s death, unless there is clear evidence intentional and malicious conduct. They further argued that this situation — where there was mere negligence on the father’s behalf — did not rise to the level of intentional or malicious conduct. Overall, the father’s legal counsel pressed the high court to dismiss this wrongful death case on the basis of the parent-child immunity doctrine.

The Court of Appeals of Maryland will hear oral arguments concerning this case in June 2019. The court expects to render a decision a few months later on August 31st.

Do You Need Legal Help?

If you need legal help with a wrongful death claim in Maryland, it can be decidedly worthwhile to consult with a qualified Baltimore wrongful death lawyer. The lawyers at Iamele & Iamele, LLP in Baltimore, Maryland, have established credentials in the arena of personal injury law, including wrongful death and survival actions. If you need legal help, contact us today for a free initial consultation.




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