Baltimore City Boulevard Rule Case

Today the Court of Appeals of Maryland issued its opinion in Grady v. Brown. This is a case involving the application of the Boulevard Rule. The Boulevard Rule is the traffic rule that states that traffic traveling on the favored roadway (or boulevard) has the right-of-way over traffic entering the boulevard from a side street.

I have written about this before. This case happened in Baltimore City. The plaintiff was driving his motorcycle down Falkirk Road, when the defendant emerged from an intersecting alleyway. There were cars parked along both sides of Falkirk Road, and the defendant testified at trial that he exited the alleyway only to the edge of the parked cars, so he could see if there was oncoming traffic. The jury found the defendant not to be negligent.

The Plaintiff moved for a directed verdict that the defendant was negligent as a matter of law due to the application of the boulevard rule. This motion was denied, and that denial was the basis of the appeal.

It looks like the Court of Appeals is holding that the defendant produced enough evidence to generate a jury issue as to his negligence, despite the boulevard rule. I haven’t had a chance to read the full opinion, but I will. So hold your breath to see what I think of it.

Disclaimer: I am not objective. I wrote the Amicus Curiae brief in Grady on behalf of the Maryland Association for Justice. The plaintiff was represented on appeal by Irwin I. Weiss, who is a smart guy and presented a well done brief and oral argument.

The defendant was represented on appeal by Sara Deriu and Mark Brown of H. Barritt Peterson & Associates (State Farm Staff Counsel). I read their brief and watched their argument. Sara and Mark did a good job.

This opinion surprises me though. I thought this should have been a dead-bang win for the plaintiff on appeal. Instead, it was a close 4-3 vote where the plaintiff lost. Judges Raker, Murphy, Battaglia, and Greene were the majority, with the opinion written by Judge Raker. Chief Judge Bell, and Judges Wilner and Harrell dissented.

I will check back in after a thorough reading of the opinion.