By: Jason C. Parkins
The Court of Appeals of Maryland held that noise emitted from a lawful fireworks display did not constitute an abnormally dangerous activity; therefore, the parties were not subject to strict liability. Toms v. Calvary Assembly of God, Inc., 446 Md. 543, 569, 132 A.3d 866, 881 (2016).
On September 9, 2012, in Frederick County, Calvary Assembly of God, Inc. hosted a fireworks event on Auburn Farms, a property adjacent to Andrew David Toms’ (“Toms”) dairy farm. Prior to the fireworks display, Calvary acquired all permits as required by section 10-104 of the Public Safety Article (“section 10-104”). Calvary hired a professional fireworks company (“Zambelli”) to plan, oversee, and perform the fireworks display. The location of the fireworks display was approved by a fire marshal prior to the event. The fire marshal concluded that the event required a 250-foot radius, clear of structures, surrounding the firing location. The permits acquired for the display demarcated a firing radius of 300 feet. Additionally, a fire marshal was present at the event and supervised the display.