Maryland's Riot Act provides that "if a structure or personal property is stolen, damaged, or destroyed in a riot, the injured party may recover actual damages sustained in a civil action against the county or municipal corporation of the State in which the riot occurred." However, the county or municipal corporation is not liable unless it:
(1) had good reason to believe that the riot was about to take place or, having taken place, had notice of the riot in time to prevent the theft, damage, or destruction; and
(2) had the ability, either by use of the county's or municipal corporation's police or with the aid of the residents of the county or municipal corporation, to prevent the theft, damage, or destruction.
The City knew that the protests on April 25th turned from peaceful to violent and destructive. Nonetheless, the City coordinated with the BPD to ensure that, to the greatest extent possible, the BPD did not engage with protesters. After the April 25th protests, the Mayor initially admitted that the City "gave those who wished to destroy space to do that[.]" The City anticipated that protesting on April 27th—the day of Freddie Gray's funeral—might again turn violent and destructive. As predicted, the protests on April 27th did, in fact, lead to violence and property damage. The City did not declare a state of emergency, which would have allowed it to assist the BPD in obtaining additional police resources, until several hours after rioting had begun on April 27th. Finally, the City did not announce a curfew until several hours after rioting began, and that curfew did not go into effect until 10:00 PM the following day.
The City argues that Plaintiffs' suggested responses either would have made no difference in preventing or suppressing the riot, or, in some cases, would have made matters worse. The City relies on City of Baltimore v. Silver, which it cites for the proposition that the Riot Act only requires the City to use "reasonable means" to quell unrest.