ANNAPOLIS, Md. (Legal Newsline) – The dismissal of a wrongful death lawsuit by a Maryland circuit court recently was reversed by the state's court of appeals.
William Stevens Hamilton, the defendant, shot and killed Craig Junior Parker on Aug. 22, 2009, the Maryland Court of Appeals opinion states. Parker was a farm laborer working for Hamilton. Cassandra Parker alleged that Hamilton buried her son’s body to conceal the wrongdoing.
In June 2015, Cassandra Parker, on behalf of herself and her grandson “Z,” born a few months after his father’s death, filed a wrongful death action against Hamilton and William Vogel Jr. in the Circuit Court for Dorchester County. Hamilton gave Vogel a half-interest in the farm he owned in 2015.
Parker later filed an amended complaint alleging wrongful death based on negligence, a survival action based on negligence, wrongful death based on gross negligence, a survival action based on gross negligence, wrongful death based on battery, a survival action based on battery and fraudulent conveyance.
Hamilton filed a motion to dismiss, which was granted by the circuit court. The claim was made that the complaint was filed untimely, more than three years after the death. However, the concealment of Parker’s body, it was argued, nullified that.
The Court of Appeals in its opinion noted that Maryland law “...operates to toll a minor plaintiff’s wrongful death claims during the period of his or her minority. Thus, the circuit court erred in dismissing the minor appellant’s wrongful death claims as untimely.”
In this case, there is also the consideration of fraud, as the opinion explains, “...that the time limitation to file a wrongful death action is tolled when the defendant engages in fraudulent conduct that prevents the plaintiffs from bringing a wrongful death action within three years from the date of death."