Ocean City has been dismissed from a federal lawsuit over a 2018 incident in which a beach umbrella caught in the wind impaled a Pennsylvania woman.
The lawsuit, filed in June 2021, alleged that negligence on the part of the resort town and 85 N. Sunny, LLC, the rental company that owned the umbrella, led to plaintiff Jill Mendygral’s injuries.
A judge issued an order Jan. 13 granting a motion to dismiss the complaint’s claim against Ocean City, but allowing 21 days for an amended complaint to be filed that meets certain criteria.
The facts laid out in the judge’s memorandum opinion show Mendygral was on the beach in the area of 54th Street while “a wind advisory” was in effect when “a beach umbrella ... became dislodged from the sand and [flew] into the air, violently stabbing Plaintiff in her chest.” She was then taken to the hospital for “emergency surgery."
The lawsuit argued she was left with “severe and permanent injuries” because of the defendants’ “negligence, carelessness, recklessness, and/or willful acts and omissions.” With regard to Ocean City, it alleged the town was aware of the dangers related to the wind and open beach umbrellas, but did not warn about the risks or take precautions.
A judge ultimately sided with Ocean City’s assertions that the town is protected by governmental immunity and “owed no duty of care to plaintiff” under a provision of law that limits liability for landowners who make their property available to the public for recreational use.
The judge wrote in a memorandum opinion that the “plaintiff does not allege facts sufficient to state a claim that Ocean City breached its duty of care” under what’s known as the “Recreational Use Statute.”
Under the Local Government Torts Claim Act, Ocean City cannot be sued directly, according to the opinion, but a claim can be brought against an individual employee as the plaintiff “alleges vicarious liability on the part of Ocean City for the acts of its employees.”
“The Amended Complaint is completely vague as to any actions or omissions by Ocean City or any of its employees related to the incident. The suit alleges generically that Ocean City failed to warn against windy conditions, without specifying any facts that indicate the extent or nature of the wind conditions or that they were outside the norm for a beach,” the judge wrote.
The judge has given 21 days for the plaintiff to file an amended complaint that either names an individual Ocean City defendant or a "John Doe" defendant.
Source : https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/local/maryland/2022/01/21/judge-dismisses-claim-against-ocean-city-beach-umbrella-lawsuit/6576898001/646