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Calvert Co. jury awards $250k to woman injured at yacht club

Pier collapsed during wedding reception in 2016

A Calvert County jury has awarded $250,000 to a woman who was injured when a pier collapsed during a wedding reception at a yacht club.

Plaintiff Polly Traynham and other wedding guests were lining up to send off the bride and groom when the pier collapsed and fell into the water on April 23, 2016, the lawsuit states.

After a two-day trial and two hours of deliberations, the jury last week found that the Solomons Island Yacht Club Inc. was negligent and failed to exercise due care in maintaining the pier, inspecting the pier, warning people about the likelihood the pier might collapse, and letting people use the pier when it was unstable, according to the complaint.

“I think there was a big emotional component to this case,” said Richard J. Steinmetz Jr., Traynham’s attorney.

Others were standing on the pier at the time of the collapse, but Steinmetz said that, as far as he knew, Traynham was the only wedding guest to sue for injuries.

Traynham injured her right hand when the pier collapsed. She works 50 hours a week and uses her hands all day at her beauty salon, said Steinmetz of Baldwin, Briscoe & Steinmetz, P.C. in Lexington Park.

“She didn’t take time off work and she pushed through,” Steinmetz said. “She was very sympathetic; I think the jury really liked her.”

Traynham did not introduce any economic damages and filed a pretrial motion to exclude $12,000 in medical bills, Steinmetz said.

The yacht club offered $50,000 to settle the case before trial, Steinmetz said, adding that he does not anticipate an appeal.

“It was a pretty clean trial,” he said.

An attorney representing Solomons Island Yacht Club’s insurance company did not respond to a request for comment.

Polly Traynham v. The Solomons Island Yacht Club, Inc.        

Court: Calvert County Circuit

Case No.: C-04-CV-18-106

Judge: Retired Prince George’s County Judge C. Philip Nichols Jr.

Proceeding: Jury trial

Outcome: Verdict for plaintiff. $250,000 in noneconomic damages


Incident: April 23, 2016

Suit filed: Feb. 15, 2018

Verdict: April 10, 2019

Plaintiffs’ attorney: Richard J. Steinmetz Jr. of Baldwin, Briscoe & Steinmetz, P.C. in Lexington Park

Defendants’ attorney: Kjrsten Tendall Hersey of Timothy S. Smith & Associates in Lanham

Count: Negligence

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