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Maryland's definition of negligence is that the person claiming it must prove by a greater weight of the evidence the following:
See Moscarillo v. Professional Risk Management Services, Inc., 398 Md. 529, 921 A.2d 245 (2007);Muthukumarana v. Montgomery County, 370 Md. 447, 805 A.2d 372 (2002).
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Under Maryland law a plaintiff's contributory negligence is a complete bar to recovery as the trier of fact is not permitted to apportion fault between a plaintiff and a defendant on a percentage basis. Harrison v. Montgomery County Bd. of Educ., 195 Md. 442, 456 A.2d 894 (1983). The standard of care imposed on a person in a contributory negligence analysis is that of a reasonable person under similar circumstances. Kassoma v. Magot, 368 Md. 113, 792 A.2d 1102 (2002).
SO, yes, what you may argue is that when you contacted the LL, if you told him that the water was still running, then he should have told you where the shut off valve was and how to use it. In other words, he was contributed to the problem by remaining silent.
By the way, if you go to small claims court to recover the security deposit, you just have to show that the LL was 1% at fault even if you were 99% at fault. You would sue for civil conversion and show the following:
In a suit for conversion, the person sues to retrieve the value of the property taken. To make a case for conversion, the suing person must show
See Lawrence v. Graham, 349 A.2d 271, 274 (Md. 1975).
The landlord will counter sue for negligence and you would defend against that by pleading contributory negligence. The negligence claim should then fall out leaving only your conversion claim.
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Okay so the goal here is to prove that the LL was at least 1% negligent. I would say that the LL should have shown you where the shut off valve was at the time you signed the lease.
That said, it is general knowledge that there is a shut off valve somewhere; but where that valve is located may differ from neighborhood to neighborhood. For example, where we live it is usually located near the street curb and in the ground where the water meter is. Because of this variance, I feel that the LL had a duty to inform you of where it was located in the town home.
This is what we call an "issue of fact" for the jury to decide. You can see how two different juries might come up with two different answers here. The question is whether the LL could reasonably expect for a tenant in your shoes to know where the shut-off valve was so as to avoid having to discuss it with you in advance of an emergency.
For example, if you look at the bottom of a toilet fitting, you can see there is a shut off valve there. If you had failed to shut that off due to a toilet malfunction, I think there would be no question of your negligence even if a LL did not discuss it with you.