In Sindler v. Litman, No. 1838, Sept. Term, 2004 (Court of Special Appeals of Maryland, Dec. 2, 2005), the plaintiffs originally brought an action for personal injuries based on a motor vehicle accident that occurred on Dec. 7, 1994. It was a rear-end accident, in which the plaintiff's Cadillac had about $6000 in damages, and the plaintiff was seen but not admitted at a hospital afterwards.
The action was filed in 1997, and in the Court's words, "the pre-trial process was very lengthy" and the case was not tried until September, 2004. However, prior to trial, in July, 2004, the plaintiff driver committed suicide. Two weeks later, her husband filed an amended complaint to include wrongful death and survival claims. The trial court entered summary judgment in favor of the defendants with respect to the wrongful death claim.
The jury returned a verdict for the plaintiff with respect to the survival and loss of consortium claims. Then the trial court granted the defendants' motion to dismiss the entire case based on discovery violations.
On appeal, the Court affirmed the trial court's rulings.
The Court adopted the general rule, and held that “one may not recover damages in negligence for the suicide of another. The act of suicide is generally considered to be a deliberate, intentional, and intervening act which precludes a finding that a given defendant is, in fact, responsible for the decedent’s death.”
While there are exceptions, here, the plaintiff's psychiatric expert did not opine that the decedent was insane or otherwise was in a mental state such that she did not realize the nature and risk of her act of suicide or that she had an uncontrollable impulse or anything sufficiently close to the Restatement test to create a jury question.