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In this medical malpractice case, the Court of Appeals reversed the judgment of the Court of Special Appeals reversing the circuit court’s judgment in favor of Plaintiff, holding that the trial court’s instructions did not mislead the jury as to the applicable law and were not an abuse of discretion. Plaintiff brought this action against Defendant, a neurosurgeon who had performed surgery on Plaintiff. After a jury trial, the circuit court entered judgment in favor of Plaintiff, concluding that Defendant had been negligent. On appeal, Defendant challenged to sets of instructions given during trial. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the trial court abused its discretion in including pattern jury instructions on general negligence and foreseeability in its initial charge to the jury and in coupling that instruction with the information that jury deliberations would continue for just one more hour. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the trial court’s instructions did not mislead the jury as to the applicable law; and (2) the trial court did not abuse its discretion in advising the jury how long it would be required to continue its deliberations. View "Armacost v. Davis" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals reversed the judgment of the Court of Special Appeals, which reversed the determination of the Commissioner of Labor and Industry that the Whiting-Turner Contracting Company violated Md. Code Ann. Lab. & Employee. 5-104(a) by failing to “furnish employment and a place of employment which were free from recognized hazards that were causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees,” holding that there was substantial evidence for the Commissioner to determine that Whiting-Turner violated section 5-104(a). Specifically, the Court of Appeals held that the Commissioner correctly determined (1) Whiting-Turner’s failure to follow the shoring-tower manufacturer’s instructions to use looser braces in assembling a shoring tower supporting a concrete slab constituted a recognized hazard within the meaning of section 5-104(a); and (2) Whiting-Turner’s use of an undersized spacer beam in the upper support system of a shoring tower constituted a recognized hazard within the meaning of section 5-104(a). View "Commissioner of Labor & Industry v. Whiting-Turner Contracting Co." on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the Hartford County Housing Agency (HCHA) terminating Petitioner’s voucher, holding that the HCHA complied with procedural due process procedures under Maryland law and the United States Constitution and that the record contained substantial evidence. Petitioner sought judicial review of the HCHA’s decision to terminate Petitioner’s voucher. The circuit court determined that the record contained substantial evidence to justify the HCHA’s decision and upheld the termination. The Court of Special Appeals affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) the HCHA is not an “agency” for the purposes of the Maryland Administrative Procedure Act, and therefore, Petitioner was not entitled to a contested case hearing; and (2) Petitioner was afforded due process through an informal hearing and the HCHA’s written decision. View "McDonell v. Harford County Housing Agency" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals reversed the judgment of the Court of Special Appeals affirming the trial court’s denial of Petitioner’s motion for a new trial, holding that the trial court’s error of supplying the jury with an instruction that was an incorrect statement of the law was not harmless. Petitioner was convicted of first-degree child abuse. Petitioner subsequently filed a motion for new trial on the grounds that the trial court gave a pattern jury instruction that erroneously omitted an element of the sole offense for which Petitioner was convicted. The circuit court denied the motion, concluding that the erroneous jury instruction did not have an impact on the defense’s theory of the case. The Court of Special Appeals affirmed. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the erroneous jury instruction was prejudicial error and warranted a new trial. View "Williams v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the circuit court affirming the decision of the Mayor and Common Council of Westminster (the Council), holding that substantial evidence in the record as a whole supported the Council’s denial of Petitioner’s application to amend the General Development Plan for Wakefield Valley (the Wakefield Valley GDP) to permit construction of fifty-three homes on “Parcel W” of a former golf course (the Application). After the Council voted to deny the Application, the Council adopted an ordinance denying the Application and incorporating an attached written decision. The circuit court affirmed the Council’s decision as set forth in the ordinance. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) the Council’s decision denying the Application was a quasi-judicial act, not a legislative act, as was therefore subject to judicial review; (2) the Council did not err in considering the zonal classification of Parcel W in evaluating the Application; and (3) there was substantial evidence in the record to support the Council’s decision. View "WV DIA Westminster, LLC v. Mayor & Common Council of Westminster" on Justia Law

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At issue was whether, at a criminal trial on drug charges, the introduction of valid prescriptions for controlled substances are barred by the rule against hearsay or if, instead, they are non-hearsay and admissible as a “verbal act.” The circuit court in this case granted the State’s motion to suppress introduction of any supposed prescriptions for controlled substances on hearsay grounds. The Court of Special Appeals reversed each of Defendant's convictions except for his two convictions for possession of heroin and possession with intent to distribute heroin on the basis that “[v]alid prescriptions provide the basis of a statutory defense to the charges for possession of and possession with intent to distribute methadone, alprazolam, and oxycodone.” The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that evidence of a valid prescription can fall under the category of “verbal acts,” admissible not for the truth of the matter asserted but as the basis of a statutory defense under Md. Code Ann. Crim. Law 5-601(a) and 602(2). View "State v. Young" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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In answering a question of law certified to it by the United States District Court of the District of Maryland, the Court of Appeals held that Md. Code Ann. Cts. & Jud. Proc. (CJP) 12-601 to 12-613 is a statutory specialty and that actions on it are accorded a twelve-year limitations period. At issue was whether the licensing requirement of the Maryland Consumer Loan Law (MCLL), Md. Code Ann. Com. Law 12-302, was a statutory specialty as contemplated by CJP 5-102(a)(6) requiring filing within twelve years after the cause of action accrues. The Court of Appeals answered the question certified to it in the affirmative, holding that the MCLL’s licensing requirement is an “other specialty” within the meaning of CJP 5-102(a)(6) and that a claim brought on it is entitled to a twelve-year limitations period. View "Price v. Murdy" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the Court of Special Appeals affirming the ruling of the circuit court that precluded Defendant from playing video excerpts of trial court testimony during closing argument, holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in prohibiting the use of video excerpts of trial testimony during closing argument. The Court of Special Appeals concluded that the trial court did not abuse its discretion by excluding the video excerpts because of the genuine concern of undue delay, waste of time, and juror confusion. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the trial court’s stated concerns regarding waste of time and juror confusion were well within the bounds of its sound discretion and reason to justify the exclusion of the video excerpts. View "Cagle v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Court of Appeals reversed the judgment of the circuit court, holding that, under the plain language of Md. Code Ann., Transp. (TR) 16-205.1(b)(2)(ii), a law enforcement officer in requesting that a driver take an alcohol concentration test is not required specifically to advise the driver whether the test will be a blood test or a breath test. After James Nelson crashed a vehicle that he had been driving, Corporal Brandon Foor requested that Nelson take an alcohol concentration test. Nelson refused, and Corporal Foor confiscated Nelson’s commercial driver’s license. An administrative law judge determined that Nelson had violated TR 16-205.1 and ordered that Nelson’s commercial driver’s license be disqualified for twelve months. The circuit court reversed, holding that Corporal Foor was required specifically to request that Nelson take a blood test. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that an officer is not required specifically to request that a driver take a blood test or a breath test, and the circuit court erred in determining otherwise. View "Motor Vehicle Administration v. Nelson" 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 trial court admitting an audio-recorded conversation recovered from Defendant’s cell phone during trial and convicting him of drug- and firearm-related offenses, holding that the trial court did not err in admitting the audio-recorded conversation over Defendant’s objection. On appeal, Defendant argued that the Maryland Wiretap Act, Md. Code Ann. Cts. & Jud. Proc. 10-402, prevented admission of the recording because the unidentified speaker with whom Defendant was communicating in the recording did not consent to its interception. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that where a party to a communication consents to or participates in the interception of a communication, section 10-402(a) of the Maryland Wiretap Act does not render the intercepted communication inadmissible against the consenting party. View "Agnew v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law