A civil jury in PG County, MD compensated a lady whose child died in a Maryland car crash with a police officer $4 Million Dollars. The jury determined that a Prince George’s County Police Officer was negligent when he crashed his police car into a 20-year-old’s car and killed him. The jury essentially found that Officer/Corporal Mario Chavez was going twice the speed limit at the time of the crash.

The Maryland car accident was in December of 2007 and the decedent is Brian Gray. Mr. Gray was a college student at the University of Maryland and he was on his way to take an exam. PG County tried to argue that Mr. Gray was contributory negligent (a finding of contributory negligence is a bar to any recovery in Maryland-very unfair).

What I find most interesting is that the Washington Post reported the $4 Million Dollar verdict, but there is no mention of the fact that the verdict will be reduced substantially based on the Local Government Tort Claims Act. In Maryland, claims against local governments are limited to $200,000.00 per individual claim and $500,000 for total claims that arise from the same occurrence (Section 5-303 of the Cts & Jud Pro. Art. MD Code).

Therefore, although the Washington Post and other news outlets reported a $4 Million Dollar Verdict, the reality is that the amount that Mr. Gray’s family will collect is substantially less than that.

I think it is irresponsible for news agencies to report on the amount of a verdict, but not to report the fact that almost all large jury verdicts end up getting reduced by the judge for one reason or another (In this case because of the Maryland Local Government Tort Claims Act). This leaves the public with the impression that there are a lot of large tort recoveries when in fact there are very few.