Justia Maryland Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

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Respondent was acquitted in a jury trial of first-degree murder premeditated murder, second-degree specific intent murder, and other charges. Thereafter, the State sought to prosecute Respondent for second-degree felony murder predicated on first-degree assault. Respondent interposed a plea of double jeopardy, which was denied. The Court of Special Appeals reversed, concluding that a subsequent trial for felony murder based upon first-degree assault was barred by the Double Jeopardy Clause. The Court of Appeals affirmed but on different grounds, holding that first-degree assault may not serve as a predicate for second-degree felony murder when that assault is not collateral to the lethal act. In so holding, the Court overruled Roary v. State, which was the foundation and predicate for the State’s charge for second-degree felony murder based on first-degree assault. View "State v. Jones" on Justia Law
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After an investigation, the Commission on Judicial Disabilities found by clear and convincing evidence that Judge Pamela J. White had committed sanctionable conduct and that a public reprimand was the appropriate disposition under the circumstances. Judge white filed with the Court of Appeals an appeal and, in the alternative, a petition for writ of certiorari, seeking to have the Court review whether the Commission had denied her procedural due process and whether the Commission had erred in finding sanctionable conduct and reprimanding her. The Commission filed a motion to dismiss. The Court ordered that the matter be set for a show cause hearing for the limited purpose of addressing whether the Court of Appeals had jurisdiction to decide whether Judge White was denied procedural due process during the Commission proceedings. The Court of Appeals entered an order holding (1) this Court has authority to consider Judge White’s arguments as to whether the Commission proceeding accorded her with the due process required by the State Constitution and the Maryland Rules; but (2) the Court was not able at this time to conduct that review. View "In re Judge Pamela J. White" on Justia Law
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The City of Baltimore contracted with Engineer to design upgrades to a wastewater treatment plant. Contractor successfully bid for work on the construction project. During construction, Contractor encountered leaking and other problems, resulting in delays and cost overruns. Contractor subsequently filed a complaint against Engineer, arguing that Engineer owed it a tort duty of care because Engineer knew that Contractor would rely on its designs in bidding and constructing the project. The circuit court granted Engineer’s motion to dismiss due to lack of privity between Contractor and Engineer. The court of special appeals affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) the economic loss doctrine barred Contractor’s negligence and negligent misrepresentation claims; and (2) privity equivalent concepts of extra-contractual duty did not apply in Contractor’s case. View "Balfour Beatty Infrastructure, Inc. v. Rummel Klepper & Kahl, LLP" on Justia Law

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The Board of Liquor License Commissioners for Baltimore City (the Liquor Board) found that Steven Kougl and his company, Kougl, Inc., violated three Rules and Regulations for the Board of Liquor License Commissioners for Baltimore City when Kougl’s employee solicited prostitution and exposed her breasts. The Liquor Board imposed a thirty-day suspension of Kougl’s liquor license. The circuit court affirmed. The court of special appeals reversed, concluding (1) the Rules require actual or constructive knowledge on the part of the licensee, and (2) therefore, Kougl did not violate the Rules at issue because his employee acted improperly without his knowledge. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding (1) the Rules impose strict liability on licensees for offending conduct that occurs on their premises, and (2) therefore, the Liquor Board was not required to show that Kougl knew or should have known about his employee’s actions to find that he violated the Rules. View "Board of Liquor License Commissioners for Baltimore City v. Kougl" on Justia Law

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Ian Schlakman and Frank Richardson (Appellees) filed suit challenging the decisions of the Baltimore City Board of Elections to certify Dan Sparaco as an eligible candidate and the State Board of Elections to include him as a candidate for the District Twelve seat on the 2016 General Election ballot. The court held that the temporary restraining order the Circuit Court granted was in error because Appellees’ state court challenges to the Boards’ actions were untimely and are barred by laches; Appellees have not explained this delay, or explained why they did not institute a parallel action in the Circuit Court within the statutorily-mandated time limits; where the federal court dismissed Appellees’ action because Appellee’s counsel was not admitted to practice before that court, the savings provision under Maryland Rule 2-101(b) did not apply to toll Appellees’ obligation to file in the appropriate circuit court, as instructed by ELEC. LAW 12-202(b)(1); and Appellees have not demonstrated any basis for relief on the merits under any theory of action or avenue for relief. The court explained that the plain language of ELEC. LAW 5-703(d)(1) does not require candidates to submit the required filings until the first Monday in August preceding the General Election. In this case, the City Board’s certification of Mr. Sparaco as a qualified candidate, and the State Board’s listing of his candidacy, complied with the provisions of the Election Law Article. Accordingly, the court vacated the temporary restraining order and remanded. View "Lamone v. Schlakman" on Justia Law

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This case related to three actions: (1) an Endangered Species Act case (ESA case), where the Fund for Animals, Inc. (FFA) and other plaintiffs sued Ringling Brothers and its owner, Feld Entertainment, (collectively, Feld) for the mistreatment of Asian elephants in the Ringling Brothers’ Circus; (2) the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act case (RICO case), where Feld sued FFA and the other plaintiffs in the ESA case for improper conduct; and (3) the coverage case, where FFA sued its insurer (National Union) for not providing coverage to FFA when it was sued by Feld in the RICO case. The findings in the ESA case were adverse to FFA and could have been used against it in the RICO case, thus prejudicing National Union. In this appeal stemming from the coverage dispute, FFA argued that although notice of the RICO claim was late under the policy, the late notification was not prejudicial to National Union. The circuit court entered judgment in favor of National Union. The Court of Special Appeals reversed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that National Union was not prejudiced in investigating, settling, or defending the RICO claim as a result of any delay in receiving notice of claims brought by FFA. View "National Union Fire Insurance Co. of Pittsburgh, Pa. v. Fund for Animals, Inc." on Justia Law
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Kor-Ko, Ltd. sought to overturn the Maryland Department of the Environment’s (MDE) grant of a construction permit to Maryland Crematory, LLC (MC) to operate a crematorium in the same commercial park building containing Kor-Ko’s business operations. Kor-Ko argued that the MDE failed to adequately consider the health of people within the park due to the emissions to the air from the operation of the crematorium. The Court of Special Appeals affirmed the MDE’s issuance of the permit. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the MDE’s issuance of the permit to construct MC’s incinerator was permissible because (1) the MDE’s interpretation of “premises” as extending to the property line of the commercial park was free of legal error; and (2) the MDE’s application of the term vis-a-vis allowing the modeling of toxins at the property line was not arbitrary or capricious. View "Kor-Ko Ltd. v. Department of Environment" on Justia Law

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Applicants applied for a petition for a special exception in the Baltimore County Zoning Regulations to operate a fuel service station with a convenience store. At a hearing conducted by the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH), several petitioners (collectively, Protestants) attended in opposition of the grant of the special exception. The OAH granted the petition with conditions. After a de novo evidentiary hearing, the Board of Appeals for Baltimore County approved the conditions for the special exception. The circuit court affirmed the Board’s decision. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) the Board’s description of the neighborhood impacted by the special exception was precise enough to enable a party or appellate court to comprehend the area that the Board considered; and (2) the Board correctly determined that the Protestants failed sufficiently to rebut the presumption of validity of a special exception. View "Attar v. DMS Tollgate, LLC" on Justia Law

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Dr. Mark Geier, David Geier, and Anne Geier (collectively, Respondents) filed a complaint against the Maryland Board of Physicians and related individuals (collectively, Petitioners), alleging that Petitioners invaded their privacy by publicizing their private medical information in a cease and desist order that was issued during disciplinary proceedings. During discovery, the circuit court entered three separate orders challenged by Petitioners. The Court of Appeals (1) granted Respondents’ motion to dismiss as it related to the orders denying Petitioners’ motions for reconsideration of a default order on liability for a series of discovery failures and for a protective order from Respondents’ sixth motion to compel documents, holding that the Court did not have appellate jurisdiction of Petitioners’ appeal regarding these interlocutory orders; and (2) reversed and vacated the order granting Respondents’ sixth motion for sanctions against Petitioner regarding the disclosure audiotapes of Petitioner’s disclosures, holding that the circuit court abused its discretion in granting the motion for sanctions. Remanded. View "Maryland Board of Physicians v. Geier" on Justia Law

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Petitioner was fifteen years old when he committed murder. Petitioner was charged as an adult, and the circuit court denied Petitioner’s request to transfer the case back to juvenile court. Twenty-six years later, the psychiatrist who originally examined Petitioner concluded that her original diagnosis that Petitioner was not legally insane at the time of the crime was incorrect and that Petitioner should have been deemed not criminally responsible (NCR) at the time of his criminal proceedings. Thereafter, Petitioner filed a petition for writ of actual innocence under Md. Code. Ann. Crim. Proc. 8-301, arguing that this revised expert opinion constituted newly discovered evidence that created a substantial possibility that the result of his 1985 prosecution may have been different. The circuit court denied the petition. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that, even if Petitioner was found NCR at the time of the 1985 proceeding, he was still guilty of killing the victim and was therefore not actually innocent of the crime for which he was convicted. View "Smallwood v. State" on Justia Law
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