Trial postponed in lawsuit over mine damage liability


An Anne Arundel County circuit judge has postponed the trial in a civil lawsuit that challenges the constitutionality of a 1991 law intended to protect residents from property damage as a result of mining activities.

The trial had been scheduled for tomorrow in Anne Arundel Circuit Court, but was postponed because the parties were not ready, said Assistant Attorney General Sharon Benzil, who represents the state in the case.

A motion filed in November to allow four property owners to become additional defendants in the suit slowed down the process, she said.

A state mining association sued the state in July 1991 when the law took effect. The law presumes that mining companies are liable for water supply damages within certain areas and requires them to compensate property owners.

The Maryland Aggregates Association said the law is unconstitutional because it applies only to mining companies.

Circuit Court Judge Warren B. Duckett Jr. suspended the law, which applies in Carroll, Baltimore, Frederick and Washington counties, pending the outcome of the trial.

A new court date has not been set, but it is not expected to be until fall, Ms. Benzil said.

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