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$8.6M Awarded To Family Of Man Stabbed At Md. Club

UPPER MARLBORO, Md. (AP) -- A jury has awarded $8.6 million to the family of a man who was fatally stabbed at a club in Forestville, but the victory may be largely symbolic.

The Daily Record reports Monday's jury verdict gives the money to the mother and children of 25-year-old George Cooper, who was fatally stabbed inside the CFE Event Center three years ago. The Prince George's County jury found the Forestville club failed to provide adequate security.

A lawyer for the family, Derrick G. Hamlin, says the victory may be largely symbolic because the club is defunct and its former owner, Kevin Darby, is dead. The jury award would also be reduced because Maryland has caps on non-economic damages.

"It will be difficult, but if there is money to be found out there, we will find it," said Hamlin, a Baltimore solo practitioner. "It is our hope to find something."

In theory, Cooper's mother, Tracy, and his three children would get $1.27 million each after the cap is applied. Cooper's estate would get $2.3 million due to the cap.

The jury awarded the money after a one-day trial that focused on damages. The family had already won a default judgment on liability against the club owner and his estate when no one responded to earlier court filings or attended earlier hearings, Hamlin said.

The family had sought $10 million when the lawsuit was filed in 2011 and had also sued Prince George's County. The county was later dismissed from the lawsuit.

The family separately reached a confidential settlement with Big Apple LLC, which owned the land. Hamlin said the settlement amount was "nominal" compared with the damages award.

The event center was shut down in 2011 after the county passed an ordinance giving it greater authority to close dangerous dance halls.

"Although Ms. Cooper is pleased with the settlement, no amount of money could replace her only son," Hamlin said.

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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