Cecil County, located in northeastern Maryland at the head of the Chesapeake Bay bordering Pennsylvania, has a small circuit court with three relatively new Circuit Court judges: V. Michael Whelan, Keith A. Baynes, and Jane Cairns Murray. The Cecil County Circuit Court sits in Elkton.A Look at Cecil County Personal Injury Verdicts
Most Maryland medical malpractice and accident lawyers who are fighting to get compensation for victims view Cecil County as a less than favorable jurisdiction for their clients. But times have changed in recent years.
In 2014, there were 145 civil lawsuits were filed. Approximately two-thirds of these cases were motor vehicle accident injury claims. There is a lot of open, winding roads in Cecil County and and lot of trucks coming through the jurisdiction which makes for a lot of serious injury and wrongful death claims.
This used to be a county were medical malpractice claim go to die. But there have been a number of medical malpractice verdicts in Cecil County that have dramatically altered that perception.
In 2011, a jury awarded over $1.6 million to a man who suffered an above the knee amputation as the result of the negligence of a Havre de Grace orthopedic surgeon.
In August, 2007, there was a $646,000 jury verdict in Cecil County (in a case where the medical malpractice insurance company made no offer).
In 2000, a Cecil County jury awarded a man $1.6 million because a radiologist misread a diagnostic test showing a blood clot and there was a $1.6 million verdict in a failure to diagnose Lyme disease case in 1999.
A few malpractice verdicts may not be impressive to non-medical malpractice lawyers. But given the relatively small number of medical malpractice cases that are filed in Cecil County, these verdicts show that times are changing and Cecil County juries will not assume that a doctor is always right just because he is a doctor. Victims are now getting a fair shake.
In car and truck accident cases, verdicts have risen as well. Because I-95 comes right through Cecil County, there a number of serious truck accident cases that are venued in the county. In these cases, jurors have been very reasonable. In 2003, there was a jury verdict of $3.25 million in a personal injury truck accident case in Cecil County.
In truck accident cases, the question of whether the jury is conservative becomes less important: in serious injury and death cases, the differences between jurors considerably narrows. There have also been a good number of mid six figure verdicts in recent years in serious care accident cases. If the claim is serious, you can expect a Cecil County jury to be fair.
The operative word is serious. In you look at reported verdicts, Cecil County juries are tough - really tough - on small soft tissue injury cases. In 2012, there were a good number of verdicts in cases where there was no dispute as to who was at fault for the accident, and the plaintiff still lost and got a zero verdict. Bluntly put, if you have a relatively minor injury that you cannot prove on a radiological test like a x-ray or a MRI, you are going to struggle even with the best personal injury lawyer unless you have a very compelling case.Settlements in Cecil County Case
As a result of better verdicts in Cecil County in serous injury cases, we are starting to see settlement values rise. Clearly, settlement values are continuing to rise in motor vehicle accident cases as well. Our law firm does not handle small soft tissue injury cases. But it is reasonable to expect that the values of cases have not risen much because, even today, it is clear that Cecil County juries just do not like these claims in most cases.
The take home message in all of this is that no smart lawyer is going to file a case in Elkton he has a choice and there are better options available, such as Baltimore City or even Baltimore County. But for serious injury claims, Cecil County is a venue plaintiffs' attorneys should no longer fear.The Court in Cecil County
There are four circuit court judges in Cecil County:
- Judge Keith A. Baynes
- Judge Jane C. Murray
- Judge Brenda A Sexton
- Judge V. Michael Whelan
In 2014, Judge Baynes replaced Judge Whelan as the administrative judge on the court.Cecil County Settlements and Verdicts
- January 2014, Maryland: $306,457 Verdict: A 48 year-old woman was stuck in Baltimore Beltway traffic when she was rear-ended by another vehicle. Shortly after the accident, she began to experience serious aggravations of prior neck problems with pain radiating to her upper extremities. She began treatment with her primary care doctor and orthopedist where she was diagnosed with a cervical disc herniation. She ultimately underwent fusion surgery that resolved most of her pain, but left her with limited range of motion. She settled with the driver of the vehicle for his liability policy limits of $15,000, then pursued underinsured motorist benefits from Liberty Mutual. Defendants claimed that although Plaintiff’s fusion surgery was necessary, it was due to the prior injury and that the accident only caused temporary aggravation. A Cecil County jury awarded the Plaintiff $306,457.
- 2011: 3,500,000 Settlement. Plaintiff is born in 2006 with multiple medical complications including hypoglycemia, temperature instability, thick meconium, and poor feeding. Defendant hospital’s nursing personnel fails to monitor the infant properly and provide the adequate standard of care. After hospital nurse discovers Plaintiff has a dusky appearance and a low pulse-oximeter reading, nurse does not contact a physician or administer oxygen for 80 minutes during which time Plaintiff suffers a severe, permanent brain injury that requires lifetime care. Defendant argues the appropriate standard of care was met and appropriate monitoring was provided, but settles the case before trial for $3,500,00.00.
- 2011: $150,000 Verdict. Plaintiff is involved in an auto accident with Defendant who admits liability. Plaintiff suffers a torn meniscus, for which she undergoes surgery, and claims the injury forced her to purchase a new home due to her inability to climb stairs. Plaintiff also claims the injury makes it difficult to care for her special-needs son, because she now has difficulty bending and walking long distances. Defendant argues Plaintiff’s claims are unrelated to the crash and that the Plaintiff should have healed. A jury awards Plaintiff $150,000.00.
- 2010: $15,000 Settlement. A 74 year-old woman is traveling on Conawingo Road (Rt. 1) when a vehicle - insured by Liberty Mutual - pulls in front of her, pushing her on an embankment. Client had a great deal of preexisting injuries so was difficult to determine what, if any, of her treatment was related the car accident. This also underscores that these are not the type of cases that a Cecil County jury is going to get excited about.
Our accident lawyers handle a substantial number of serious personal injury cases in Cecil County. We handle only serious injury accident, malpractice, and product and premises liability claims. If you have been injured in Cecil County, call our lawyers at 800-553-8082 or select here for a free consultation.Reviews of Other Maryland Jurisdictions
- How to get a police report in Cecil County
- Discussion among attorneys on Cecil County as a venue
- Cecil County Accident Verdict (includes commentary on Cecil County jurors)
- Sample Cecil County Scheduling Order (in car crash case)
- Cecil County Case Management Plan (for cases in Circuit Court)
- Sample Cecil County Police Report (example police report in accident case)
- $3 Million Motorcycle Accident Verdict (overturned on appeal)
- Named Driver Exclusion in Maryland (a Cecil County truck accident case)