Justia Maryland Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

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The Court of Appeals answered a certified question of law by holding that Md. Code Comm. Law (CL) 12-1018(b) requires a credit grantor that is found to have knowingly violated Credit Grantor Closed End Credit Provisions (CLEC), CL 12-1001 et seq., to forfeit three times the amount of interest, fees, and charged collected in violation of the subtitle.This case concerned a borrower who purchased a motor vehicle and financed it by closed end credit pursuant to an agreement governed by CLEC. The federal district court issued a certified question of law regarding the calculation of damages under CL 12-1018(b). The Court of Appeals held that, based upon prior caselaw regarding CLEC, a plain language analysis of CL 12-1018(b), and a review of the pertinent legislative history, CL 12-1018(b) requires a credit grantor who has knowingly violated the CLEC to forfeit three times the amount of interest, fees, and charges collected in violation of CL 12-1018(b). View "Lyles v. Santander Consumer USA Inc." on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the court of special appeals, which affirmed Defendants' convictions of possessing a firearm, holding that the State provided sufficient evidence to establish that Defendants knew they were prohibited from possessing a firearm.Defendants Mashour Howling and Funiba Abangnelah each possessed a firearm at the time of arrest despite being disqualified to do so. In separate jury trials, both Defendants unsuccessfully requested that the respective circuit courts give a jury instruction incorporating the reasoning of Rehaif v. United States, 139 S. Ct. 2191 (2019), where the United States Supreme Court held that the federal statute required proof of knowledge of possession of a firearm and proof of knowledge of the defendant's status as a person prohibited from possessing a firearm. After Defendants were convicted the court of special appeals affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in declining to give Defendants' requested jury instructions. View "Howling v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Court of Appeals held that the circuit court did not err in ordering the City of Balitmore to execute a tax sale deed conveying legal title to the property to Ty Webb, LLC, the assignee of Thorton Mellon, LLC, the tax sale purchaser.The day after the circuit court entered a judgment foreclosing the right of redemption in connection with a tax sale proceeding pending in the circuit court Thorton Mellon executed an assignment purporting to assign Ty Webb its interest in the judgment and tax sale certificate. The Director refused to execute a tax deed to Ty Webb. Thornton Mellon then substituted its interest in the action to Ty Webb, which, as substitute plaintiff, filed a motion requesting an order directing the City to issue a tax sale deed to Ty Webb. The circuit court granted the motion, and the court of special appeals affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err in concluding that the certificate of sale and judgment were assignable and directing the City to execute the tax deed in favor of Ty Webb. View "Mayor & City of Baltimore v. Thornton Mellon, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals answered a certified question of law by concluding that the then-Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbara of the Court of Appeals acted within her authority and consistently with the Maryland Constitution when she issued an administrative order temporarily tolling statutes of limitations under Maryland law with respect to civil actions during the COVID-19 pandemic.On April 24, 2020, the Chief issued an administrative order that temporarily tolled statutes in civil cases during the state of emergency created by the COVID-19 pandemic. In a commercial dispute between the parties in this case, the timeliness of certain claims and the diversity jurisdiction of the federal court depended on the validity of the Chief Justice's administrative tolling order and whether the order violated the Maryland Declaration of Rights. The Court of Appeals held that the Chief Justice acted within her authority when she issued the administrative tolling order concerning the timeliness of the complaints filed in Maryland during the pandemic. View "Murphy v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals held that a determination of whether to order reimbursement of attorney's fees under Md. Code Ann., Tax-Property (TP) 14-843(a)(4)(i) after a complaint has been filed is discretionary and that a circuit court may consider whether the tax sale certificate holder (TSCH) impeded the property owner's exercise of the right of redemption in making a determination as to reimbursement.After a tax sale at which the TSCH purchased property, the TSCH billed the owner for attorney's fees and expenses for a complaint that had not yet been filed and did not promptly notify the owner that an expired release could be used to redeem the property. The owner reimbursed the TSCH for the attorney's fees owed at the time, but before the redemption process was completed the TSCH filed a complaint to foreclose the owner's right of redemption. The owner later paid all amounts necessary to redeem the property. At issue was whether the owner was required to reimburse the TSCH for attorney's fees incurred after the complaint was filed. The Court of Appeals held that the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in declining to order reimbursement of the TSCH's attorney's fees under TP 14-843(a)(4)(i) or in declining reimbursement of attorney's fees in exceptional circumstances under TP 14-843(a)(4)(iii). View "Thornton Mellon LLC v. Adrianne Dennis Exempt Trust" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals held that, under Maryland law, an individual cannot be convicted of robbery by means of threatening force against property or threatening to accuse the victim of having committed sodomy.Defendant pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm and ammunition by a convicted felon. The federal district court sentenced Defendant to a term at the top of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines range after determining that he possessed the firearm after sustaining a felony conviction for a crime of violence, namely his 2007 Maryland conviction for robbery. The court then certified a question concerning Maryland robbery to the Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals answered the question in the negative, holding that, under Maryland law, an individual cannot be convicted of robbery by means of threatening force against property or threatening to accuse the victim of having committed sodomy. View "Dickson v. United States" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Court of Appeals reversed the judgment of the tax court reversing the decision of the Comptroller of Maryland denying Broadway Services Inc.'s request for an offset and refund of the taxes it paid to cleaning supply vendors, holding that the tax court erred.Under contracts between three non-profit tax-exempt hospitals of the Johns Hopkins Health System and Broadway, a for-profit business, Broadway provided management services to the hospitals, including purchasing and providing cleaning supplies for the use of he hospitals' janitorial staff. Broadway filed a request for an offset and refund of the taxes it paid to cleaning supply vendors, asserting that Broadway was tax exempt because it was reselling the cleaning supplies. The Comptroller denied the refund. The tax court reversed, concluding that because Broadway acted as the hospitals' agent it should not have been charged sales tax. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the tax court erroneously conducted its agency analysis as a matter of law. View "Broadway Services v. Comptroller" on Justia Law

Posted in: Tax Law
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The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the court of special appeals affirming the decision of the circuit court ordering the parties to arbitrate their dispute, holding that the lower courts did not err.The arbitration agreement at issue in this case did not specify an arbitration service. When Respondent refused to cooperate to start the arbitration proceedings, Petitioner petitioned to compel arbitration. The circuit court ordered the parties to arbitrate their dispute, thus denying Respondent's argument that the petition was barred by the statute of limitations. The court of special appeals affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) when the contract is silent on the issue, a petition to compel arbitration under Md. Code Cts. & Jud. Proc. (CJ) 3-207 is not subject to a defense under CJ 5-101; (2) the court of special appeals did not err in applying Gannett Fleming in affirming the circuit court; and (3) a petition to compel arbitration under CJ 3-207 is not subject to the limitations period set forth in CJ 5-101. View "Park Plus v. Palisades of Towson, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed Defendant's conviction of second-degree murder and possession of a firearm, holding that Defendant's contentions on appeal were unavailing.After a trial, the jury found Defendant guilty of second-degree murder and possession of a regulated firearm while under the age of twenty-one and not guilty of first-degree assault and use of a firearm in the commission of a crime of violence. On appeal, Defendant argued, among other things, that the guilty verdict as to second-degree murder and the not-guilty verdicts as to first-degree assault and use of a firearm in the commission of a crime of violence were inconsistent. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) the verdicts were not legally inconsistent; (2) the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in denying Defendant's motion for a new trial based on the jury having allegedly returned inconsistent verdicts; and (3) the evidence was sufficient to support the convictions. View "Williams 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 reversing the judgment of the circuit court granting summary judgment to Pabst Brewing Company (Pabst) and dismissing this breach of contract lawsuit brought by Frederick P. Winner, Ltd. (Winner), holding that the circuit court erred in its interpretation of the Successor Manufacturers Law (SML), Md. Code Ann., Alco. Bev. (AB) 5-201.Under a contract agreed upon in 1994, Winner and its predecessor entity distributed Pabst beer brands in Maryland. In 2014, Blue Ribbon, LLC purchased 100 percent of the stock of Pabst's parent entity. In 2015, Pabst terminated its contract with Winner, claiming that the termination was allowed under the SML. Winner disagreed and brought this lawsuit. The circuit court concluded that Blue Ribbon was permitted to cause Pabst to terminate its contract with Winner. The court of special appeals reversed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) the SML applies only where the beer manufacturer that holds a Maryland license to distribute a brand of beer is replaced by another entity as the license hold with respect to that brand; and (2) Blue Ribbon did not qualify as a successor beer manufacturer, and Pabst did not have the right to terminate its contract with Winner without cause. View "Pabst Brewing Co. v. Frederick P. Winner, Ltd." on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts