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State of Maryland considering legal action in the wake of the Key Bridge collapse

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State of Maryland considering legal action in the wake of the Key Bridge collapse


BALTIMORE – With the NTSB preliminary report comes several questions about the legal fallout after the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge.

On Wednesday, Maryland Attorney General Anthony Brown called on the state board of public works to approve contracting five external law firms to assist in litigation after the collapse. The firms will only be paid contingent on the state winning its case. The funds for that would come from the damages recovered.

“The firms are the right mix of maritime, insurance, conflicts litigation, and other expertise and experience we need to pursue and protect the state’s interests in this critical matter,” Brown said.

The board approved these contracts during a vote Wednesday.  The state owned and operated the Key Bridge. The attorney general’s office has not indicated when it will file a claim.

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This step comes as several legal fillings have already been sent to federal district court in Baltimore. The city filed a civil claim for damages in April. The Dali owner and operator filed a limitation of liability claim, asking the court to restrict the company’s financial responsibility to the cost of the ship. Separately, the ship’s owner declared general average, asking cargo companies with products on board to chip in for the cost of “voluntary lost cargo”.

While the report provides a clear timeline of events the morning of March 26, it doesn’t answer the question of why the incident occurred.

This will be the key in, what’s shaping up to be, a lengthy legal battle. Sen. Ben Cardin spoke at a press briefing earlier this week, saying this could be a historically large insurance claim.

“Those insurance claims will help to ensure the federal taxpayer gets relief,” Cardin said.

Maritime insurance functions differently than that on land. Large vessels can take out insurance policies from independent insurance brokers, but that can be expensive. Instead, most ships work with a protection and indemnity club, which is a group of vessels that form a mutual assurance organization to provide insurance for large claims. There are 12 leading clubs in the world, and they formed an international group to pool resources for high value claims. Currently, there is $2.1 billion available to support claims in this international group.

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This insurance would only be triggered if the ship cannot limit its liability to the value of the vessel, which will be one of the first claims reviewed in court. In order to have a ruling in that case, the court needs to determine why the allision happened. If the court finds that the ship’s owner knew of problems on board, liability will not be limited.

“If it turns out equipment just failed unexpectedly even though the maintenance is up to date or if some ship’s officer simply made a mistake, then that would not be attributable to the owner, and theoretically limitation would be allowed,” Allen Black, maritime attorney at Mills Black LLP., said.

The FBI opened its investigation into the Dali last month. Black says investigators could be looking at criminal charges related to misconduct or neglect of ship officers, also known as the Seafarers Manslaughter statute. Prosecutors would have to prove simple negligence, accusing a member of the crew of neglect, misconduct or inattention to duties, causing the death of the six construction workers who were on the bridge that night.  

“I assume that’s exactly what they are looking for is to see if they can find some act of negligence attributable to the crew or the ship’s owner,” Black said.

All cases related to the Key Bridge Collapse need to be filed by September 24 in district court. Then, the court will begin reviewing evidence. This will all begin as the NTSB and Coast Guard safety investigation continues.

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Maryland

Maryland groups celebrate elimination of parole fees for ex-offenders

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Maryland groups celebrate elimination of parole fees for ex-offenders


Maryland groups celebrate elimination of parole fees for ex-offenders – CBS Baltimore

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Maryland groups celebrate elimination of parole fees for ex-offenders

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Maryland school overcrowding requires bigger shakeup | READER COMMENTARY

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Maryland school overcrowding requires bigger shakeup | READER COMMENTARY


The recent editorial on school overcrowding correctly suggests that boundary changes have to be considered to alleviate overcrowding (“In Baltimore County, a failing grade on school overcrowding,” May 22). However, I doubt that this would solve more than a small percentage of the problem.

How do we hold a school board accountable when five of the 12 members (41%) are not elected, but are appointed by the governor? I would like to suggest that we look at school districts across the nation to see how they are managed. You will find that Maryland is one of only five states that does not have funding that is independent of county or municipality control. Why does Baltimore County Public Schools have to beg for funding from the county?

Here’s my suggestion. First, all school board members should be elected. Next, give the school board the ability to ask district voters for tax revenues for school construction and operations. Taxing authority should include the assessment of “impact fees” on housing construction so that the district could provide suitable facilities and address overcrowding. Let the school board have the authority and then they can be held accountable.

I understand that implementation is not that simple. But if 45 states can do it, Maryland can do it, too.

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— Larry Williams, Towson

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Police Investigating Shots Fired on Columbus Drive

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Police Investigating Shots Fired on Columbus Drive


On Monday, May 27, 2024, at approximately 8:25 p.m., police responded to Columbus Drive in Lexington Park, for reports of shots being fired.

911 callers reported a black male wearing a black sweatshirt fired more than 5 times towards a residence.

Police are currently in the area and investigating the incident.

No known injuries have been reported.

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Updates will be provided when they become available.










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