(9/6) Another trip to court for the
Town of Thurmont saw a nearly $3.5-million
award from a trial earlier this year reduced
by more than $900,000.
The seven plaintiff couples filed a lawsuit
against the town in 2004 over flooding that
occurred in their homes in 2003. In May, a
Frederick County Circuit Court jury award
families nearly $3.5 million. However, in
August’s post-trial motions, Judge Julie
Stevenson Solt reduced the award due to
duplication in the award and Solt’s ruling
that to municipal protections under state law,
there was a cap to how much a family could be
awarded. All seven families saw their awards
reduced in some way.
Solt capped the largest award, given to
Robert and Rachel Patrick, at $500,000 to
comply with a local government tort claims
act, which protects towns from paying more
than $500,000 per occurrence.
The town had argued that flooding should be
considered as one occurrence, that only
$500,000 total should be awarded, but the
judge did not agree saying that each home and
its flooding was a separate occurrence and
therefore seven events occurred and each
plaintiff was entitled up to $500,000.
The judge also denied the defendants
request for a new trial, saying “the court is
comfortable with its rulings.”
Thurmont Mayor Martin Burns said the town
is will appeal the decision. However, the
town’s appeal will have to wait for an appeal
that the Patricks have made over the reduction
of their $699,733 award to $500,000.