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At issue was the use of a lien on real property as part of a deferred financing arrangement for the construction of water and sewer infrastructure to serve a new home development. To carry out a deferred financing strategy, Developer used an instrument called a declaration, which provided for payments of an annual assessment by future homeowners to Respondent. The declaration purportedly granted a lien by future homeowners to Respondent to secure the payment of the annual assessment and gave priority to that lien at a date before the development was constructed or any homeowner had granted such a lien. Petitioner, the holder of a deed of trust that arose out of the financing of one of the homes in the development, brought this action to clarify the priority of its interest in that property in relation to the lien asserted by Respondent for delinquent assessments. The Supreme Court held (1) the declaration recorded by Respondent did not itself create a lien on the property because Petitioner must follow the procedures set forth in the Maryland Contract Lien Act to establish a lien under the declaration with respect to delinquent assessments; and (2) the priority of that lien is determined by the date of its recording in the land records. View "Select Portfolio Servicing, Inc. v. Saddlebrook West Utility Co., LLC" on Justia Law

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At issue in this case was whether an agreement entered into during the course of the parties’ marriage made manifest by three deeds by which title was transferred to Wife by Husband was sufficient to exclude those properties from consideration as marital property under Md. Code Ann. Fam. Law 8-201(e). The trial court concluded that the postnuptial agreement was not a “valid agreement” under the requirements of section 8-201(e). Before the court of special appeals, Wife argued that the circuit court judge had erred in classifying the property as marital property because there was a “valid agreement” under section 8-201(e) excluding the two pieces of real property from marital property. The court of appeals affirmed the trial court’s judgment. The Court of Appeals remanded the case for further proceedings, holding (1) under section 8-201(e), a valid postnuptial agreement does not require language that reclassifies property as nonmarital in order to exclude that property from marital property in divorce; (2) there was a valid postnuptial agreement to exclude one property as the nonmarital property of Wife; and (3) with respect to the second property, the trial judge, on remand, must consider whether there was a valid agreement to exclude the property as nonmarital under section 8-201(e)(2). View "McGeehan v. McGeehan" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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Defendant, who was charged with solicitation, conspiracy, and first degree premeditated murder after contracting with a third party to kill her abusive husband, presented sufficient evidence that she felt as though she was in imminent danger to be entitled to a jury instruction on imperfect self-defense. A jury found Defendant guilty of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, solicitation to commit first-degree murder, and use of a handgun in commission of a crime of violence. Defendant filed a motion for a new trial, arguing that the trial court gave an erroneous instruction on imperfect self-defense. The court of special appeals concluded that Defendant had not presented sufficient evidence to be entitled to an imperfect self-defense instruction, and therefore, any error in giving the instruction was harmless. The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded for a new trial on all counts, holding that the trial court’s misstatement of the law in its imperfect self-defense jury instruction was not harmless. View "Porter 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, which affirmed the trial court’s judgment on Robert Roman’s negligence count against Sage Title, LLC but reversed the trial court’s grant of judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV) with respect to Roman’s conversion count. Roman sought to hold Sage Title liable under a theory of respondent superior for the action’s of Sage Title’s employee who, along with two other individuals, were purportedly part of a fraud scheme to which Roman fell victim. Roman also sought to hold Sage Title liable under a theory of direct negligence. The trial court granted Sage Title’s motion for a judgment with respect to the negligence count. The jury then returned a verdict in favor of Roman on the conversion count and awarded him $2.42 million in damages. The trial court granted Sage Title’s JNOV motion on the court of appeals. On appeal from the court of special appeals, the Court of Appeals held (1) the conversion claim was properly before the jury, and the jury was correct in entering its verdict on that count in favor of Roman; and (2) the trial court correctly granted Sage Title’s motion for judgment as to the negligence count. View "Sage Title Group, LLC v. Roman" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the finding of the Workers’ Compensation Commission (WCC) that Employer and Insurer (collectively, Respondents) were entitled to offset the ordinary disability benefits already paid to Petitioner against the temporary total disability benefits paid to him by Respondents. Petitioner suffered injuries primarily to his back and neck while working for Employer. Employer received two different sets of disability benefits from Employer and Insurer, each awarded by a different state agency. Specifically, Petitioner was granted temporary total disability benefits by the WCC and ordinary disability benefits by the State Retirement Agency. The WCC found that Respondents were entitled to a credit for the ordinary disability benefits already paid to Petitioner. On judicial review, the circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of the WCC. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that because both sets of benefits compensated Petitioner for the same injury, pursuant to Md. Code Ann. Lab. & Empl. 9-610, the statutory offset properly applied to prevent a double recovery for the same injury. View "Reger v. Washington County Board of Education" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the court of special appeals that upheld all but one of Petitioner’s convictions. Petitioner was convicted by a jury of second degree murder, attempted second degree murder, and related offenses. The Supreme Court held (1) the trial court did not err in concluding that a board-certified neuropsychologist’s testimony about the effects of traumatic brain injury failed to meet the Frye-Reed standard; and (2) the trial court did not err when it permitted the State in closing argument to impeach Petitioner’s testimony based on a witness’ failure to disclosure to police that Petitioner had acted in self-defense. View "Savage v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Greco v. State, 427 Md. 477 (2012) announced the rule that a term-of-years sentence for first degree murder is an illegal sentence that must be corrected by adding a period of probation. At issue before the Court of Appeals was whether a sentence for first degree felony murder containing such an illegality must be corrected when the illegal sentence was imposed pursuant to a plea agreement. In this case, pursuant to a plea agreement, Respondent pleaded guilty to first degree felony murder and armed robbery. For his murder conviction, Respondent was sentenced to life in prison, all but thirty-five years suspended, with no mention of probation. Respondent later brought this action challenging the legality of his sentence. The circuit court vacated Respondent’s sentence, resentenced him to life imprisonment, all but thirty-five years suspended, with four years of supervised probation. The court of special appeals reversed, concluding that the sentence as modified was illegal because it added four years or probation not included as a term of the plea agreement. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the circuit court’s imposition of a period of probation removed the illegality in the sentence and did not constitute an abuse of discretion. View "State v. Crawley" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Evidence of a convicted defendant’s membership in a gang is admissible at sentencing even where the gang membership is unrelated to the underlying criminal conviction but where the State establishes that all gang members are aware of, and required to participate in, the criminal acts of violence of the gang. Petitioner in this case was convicted of reckless endangerment; wearing, carrying, or transporting a handgun; and conspiracy to commit robbery with a dangerous weapon. At sentencing, the State sought to introduce evidence that Defendant was a member of a gang. The trial court permitted admission of the evidence. Defendant appealed, arguing that the circuit court erred in admitting evidence of his gang membership at sentencing. The court of special appeals affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the sentencing court did not err in admitting evidence of Defendant’s gang membership and considering it in fashioning an appropriate sentence. View "Cruz-Quintanilla v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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When P. Thomas Hoff, the founder of One Call Concepts, Inc. and Hanover Investments, Inc. (Hanover), terminated the employment of Susan Volkman and redeemed her shares of Hanover, Hoff and others brought this declaratory judgment action against Volkman in the circuit court to defend the procedures it followed to redeem her stock. At the time the declaratory judgment action was filed, Volkman had already filed, in a Minnesota state court, a breach of contract action against Hanover concerning the same issue. The circuit court refused to dismiss or stay the action in deference to the pending Minnesota action. The court then issued a declaratory judgment in favor of Hanover. The court of special appeals ruled that there were not unusual and compelling circumstances justifying the circuit court’s issuance of a declaratory judgment to resolve the same question at issue in the pending Minnesota litigation. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that this action did not create unusual and compelling circumstances that would justify an exception to the principle that a court should not entertain a declaratory judgment action when there was a pending lawsuit involving the same issues. View "Hanover Investments, Inc. v. Volkman" on Justia Law

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A surety who issued a performance bond on a subcontract was not bound by that contract’s arbitration clause when the surety was jointly and severally liable for the “performance of” the subcontract and the entire subcontract was incorporated into the bond by reference. Petitioner entered into a contract with an electrical subcontractor pursuant to a master subcontract agreement that included a mandatory arbitration clause. Petitioner later entered into a subcontract with the electrical subcontractor to perform work on a project. The subcontract incorporated the entire master subcontract agreement by reference. The subcontractor obtained a performance bond from Respondent stating that Respondent was jointly and severally liable for the performance of the construction contract, which was incorporated into the bond by reference. Petitioner terminated the subcontract after a dispute with the electrical subcontractor and filed a demand for arbitration that included Respondent. Respondent requested a declaratory judgment that it was not bound by the arbitration clause. The circuit court granted partial summary judgment in favor of Respondent. The court of special appeals affirmed, ruling that Respondent could not be compelled to participate in the pending arbitration proceedings between Petitioner and the electrical subcontractor. The Court of Appeals affirmed for the reasons stated above. View "Schneider Electric Buildings Critical Systems, Inc. v. Western Surety Co." on Justia Law