Contributory Negligence Remains a Complete Bar to Recovery in Negligence Actions

In Coleman v. Soccer Association of Columbia, the Maryland Court of Appeals was recently presented with the issue of whether it should abrogate the doctrine of contributory negligence and adopt comparative negligence, which is followed by the majority of other states.  In declining to adopt comparative negligence, the Court noted that since it was last presented with and considered the issue of doing away with contributory negligence in 1983, the Maryland General Assembly has continually considered and failed to pass bills that would abolish or modify the contributory negligence standard.  The Court considered the General Assembly’s repeated failure to pass legislation abrogating the defense of contributory negligence as strong evidence indicating that the legislative policy in Maryland is to retain contributory negligence.  While the Court acknowledged that it had the power to change the common law of contributory negligence, it refused to do so based upon the General Assembly’s repeated rejection of legislative measures to abrogate the doctrine.