Notice Bill Would Upend Last Year’s LGTCA Compromise

MACo Legal and Policy Counsel, Les Knapp testified in opposition to SB 356, Local Government Tort Claims Act and Maryland Tort Claims Act – Statute of Limitations and Repeal of Certain Notice Requirements, to the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee on February 16, 2016. Knapp was joined by Baltimore City Office of the Mayor’s Governmental Relations Deputy Director Nicholas Blendy and Bill Jorch from the Maryland Municipal League.

The bill would repeal the 1-year notice requirement for claims against local governments under the (LGTCA). Under the Maryland Tort Claims Act, the bill would: (1) repeal a 1-year claim filing provision for claims against the State; and (2) provide that when a cause of action accrues in favor of a minor or mental incompetent, the claimant must file the action within 3 years after the disability is removed.

From the MACo testimony,

This Committee and the General Assembly considered and rejected the repeal of the LGTCA notice provision last year. Instead, the General Assembly passed legislation (HB 113 of 2015) that extended the LGTCA notice from 180 days to 1 year and increased its damage caps. …

SB 356 would undermine the ability of a local government to properly conduct investigations in its defense. Local governments provide a wide range of public services that can give rise to injury claims, including: law enforcement, corrections, and firefighting services; road, sidewalk, and storm drain maintenance; local public transportation; solid waste collection; building inspection; animal control; recreation and park facilities; and water and sewer services. …

Additionally, the bill’s fiscal note indicates the bill would impose a “[s]ignificant increase in expenditures for local governments to (1) litigate LGTCA cases that could otherwise be resolved through motions for summary judgment under existing statute; (2) pay judgments awarded in those cases; and (3) pay increased insurance premiums for liability coverage against LGTCA claims.” Such increases could also result in a local government curtailing or restricting certain services it currently provides in order to meet heightened risk management requirements.

For more on 2016 MACo legislation, visit the Legislative Database.