Justia Maryland Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the court of special appeals vacating a jury award of $500,000 against Dr. Shabbir Choudhry for loss of household services, which Petitioner alleged she would have received from her adult daughter, who died after having received medical treatment by Dr. Choudhry, holding that the court of appeals did not err.In vacating the jury award, the court of appeals held that, in a wrongful death action, a parent could recover economic damages for loss of household services but that Petitioner had presented insufficient evidence to have the claim submitted to the jury. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that, in order for a parent of a deceased child to recover pecuniary damages for household services under the Wrongful Death Act, Md. Code Cts. & Jud. Proc. 3-901 to -904, the parent must present evidence not only that they reasonably expected to receive services from the adult child but that the child intended to continue providing those services. View "Fowlkes v. Choudhry" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals reversed in part and affirmed in part the judgment of the court of special appeals dismissing an amended complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, holding that Petitioners' amended complaint adequately set forth a cause of action under Md. Code Real Prop. (RP) 7-113.Petitioners, occupants of residential property that they owned or leased, brought this action against Respondents, a mortgage servicer and a real estate broker, after Respondents posted eviction notices on Petitioners' properties in an attempt to gain possession of the properties without a court order. Petitioners claimed that Respondents violated RP 7-113 and the Maryland Consumer Protection Act (MCPA), Md. Code Comm. Law 13-101 et seq. The circuit court dismissed the complaint for failure to state a claim. The court of special appeals affirmed. The Court of Appeals reversed in part, holding (1) Petitioners set forth a cause of action under RP 7-113; and (2) this Court has not established a more demanding standard for pleading damages in private actions brought under the MCPA. View "Wheeling v. Selene Finance LP" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the tax court determining that, between 2003 and 2011, Travelocity.com LP was liable for sums due under the sales and use tax pursuant to Md. Code Tax-Gen. 11-102(a), holding that Travelocity was not liable to pay the sales and use tax during the relevant audit period.The Comptroller of Maryland issued a tax assessment of almost $6.5 million. The tax court upheld the assessment, concluding that Travelocity's business of facilitating vehicle rentals and hotel room reservations was included in the sale of tangible personal property in Maryland, rendering Travelocity liable for the tax during the audit period at issue. The circuit court affirmed. The court of special appeals reversed. The court of appeals reversed, holding that Travelocity was not liable for the tax during the audit period at issue. View "Travelocity.com v. Comptroller" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the circuit court denying Defendant's motion to suppress, holding that, under the circumstances presented in this case, the police had reasonable suspicion to conduct a brief investigatory detention of Defendant, and the stop did not violate the parameters of the Fourth Amendment.In response to an anonymous 911 call that provided the location and license plate of a vehicle driven by a possibly intoxicated driver, the responding police officer located he vehicle in a parking lot, knocked on the window, and spoke to Defendant, who admitted to having had multiple drinks and that his driver's license was revoked. Defendant was arrested after he was unable to successfully complete a field sobriety test. On appeal, Defendant argued that the anonymous call could not support a finding of reasonable suspicion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, under the totality of the circumstances, the stop at issue comported with the reasonable suspicion requirement of the Fourth Amendment. View "Trott v. State" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals reversed Defendant's conviction for various charges related to a home invasion, holding that a the trial court erred by giving an anti-CSI effect instruction and that the error was not harmless.At trial, the judge gave an anti-CSI effect jury instruction, which advises the jury that the prosecution need not prove its case through scientific or forensic techniques featured in police procedural television shows. Defendant challenged the instruction on appeal, arguing that the instruction violated his right to a fair trial. The Supreme Court agreed, holding (1) the trial judge abused his discretion by giving what amounted to a preemptive anti-CSI effect instruction that was not in conjunction with a reiteration of the reasonable doubt standard; and (2) the error in the anti-CSI effect instruction was not harmless. View "Taylor v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the court of special appeals concluding that prejudgment interest on defense costs where a party breaches its duty to defend does not fall within the exception to the "modified discretionary approach" and is within the discretion of the fact-finder.The modified discretionary approach used by Maryland courts in awarding prejudgment interest generally places the award of prejudgment interest within the discretion of the trier of fact but also recognizes exceptions where a plaintiff is entitled to prejudgment interest as a matter of right. At issue was whether prejudgment interest should be awarded as a matter of right. The Court of Appeals held (1) prejudgment interest on defense costs is left to the discretion of the fact-finder; and (2) where the jury in this case was not presented with a claim of prejudgment interest, was not instructed on the issue, and did not separately state an award of prejudgment interest in the verdict, the circuit court was not authorized to award prejudgment interest. View "Nationwide Property & Casualty Insurance Co. v. Selective Way Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals answered a certified question of law by the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Maryland by holding that the Maryland Contract Lien Act (MCLA), Md. Code Ann. Real Prop. 14-201 - 206, does not permit liens that secure unpaid damages, costs, charges, and fees that accrue after the recordation of the lien.According to Appellant, if a lien complies with the procedural requirements for creation under the MCLA, the lien can secure unpaid damages arising after the recordation of the lien, and therefore, the MCLA permits continuing liens. Appellee, in turn, argued that continuing liens are prohibited by the plain language of the statute, its legislative history, and due process requirements. Specifically, Appellee argued that the MCLA prohibits any sum from being secured by a statutory lien before the property owner has the opportunity to contest the sum prior to attachment. The Court of Appeals held that the plain text, legislative history, and case law relevant to the MCLA collectively demonstrate the Legislature's intent to prohibit continuing liens. View "In re Walker" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the court of special appeals reversing the judgment of the circuit court for $500,000 in economic damages to Petitioner under the Wrongful Death Act, Md. Code Ann. Cts. & Jud. Proc. 3-901 to 3-904, holding that the evidence was insufficient to support a pecuniary damage award to compensate for loss of household services from an adult child, now deceased.The circuit court vacated the award against Respondent, a medical doctor, for loss of household services Petitioner alleged she would have received from her adult daughter who died after receiving medical treatment by Respondent. The court of special appeals affirmed, holding that Petitioner had not produced sufficient evidence to have the claim submitted to the jury pursuant to Maryland Rule 2-519. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the evidence adduced by Petitioner was insufficient to meet her burden of proof. View "Fowlkes v. Choudhry" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the court of special appeals affirming the judgment of the circuit court finding Appellant in violation of his probation and sentencing him to serve ten years, holding that there was no error.Appellant pled guilty in five cases involving theft charges and violations of probation. As a condition of probation, the circuit court ordered Appellant to enroll in, comply with the conditions of, and successfully complete the Drug Court program. The State later alleged that Appellant violated his probation by failing to comply with the requirements of Drug Court. Appellant was found in violation of his probation. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that a trial judge assigned to a drug court program is not required to recuse him or herself from presiding over a violation of probation proceeding for a current drug court participant. View "Conner v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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In this grievance proceeding, the Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the court of special appeals vacating the judgment of the circuit court affirming in part and reversing in part the decision of the ALJ and remanding with instructions to dismiss the proceeding, holding that the complaint did not present a grievable issue.Keith Merryman, a police officer employed by the University of Baltimore and the president of the Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 146 (the Union), initiated a grievance proceeding complaining about holiday leave. The ALJ ruled in favor of the Union. The circuit court affirmed in part and reversed in part. The court of special appeals held that the ALJ lacked jurisdiction over the complaint because the dispute was not a grievable issue. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that, under the memorandum of understanding in this case, which incorporated the grievance procedures set forth in Md. Code Ann., Educ. 13-201 to 13-206, the complaint did not constitute a grievable issue. View "Merryman v. University of Baltimore" on Justia Law