Justia Maryland Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Civil Procedure

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The Court of Appeals reversed the judgments of the Court of Special Appeals and circuit court dismissing D.L.'s petition for judicial review challenging her involuntary admission to a facility operated by Sheppard Pratt Health Systems, Inc. as moot based on her release from Sheppard Pratt, holding that D.L. faced collateral consequences as a result of her involuntary admission, and therefore, her appeal was not moot. An ALJ involuntarily admitted D.L. to Sheppard Pratt. After she was released, D.L. petitioned for judicial review. The circuit court granted Sheppard Pratt's motion to dismiss on grounds of mootness because D.L. had already been released from the facility. The Court of Special Appeals affirmed. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that D.L. was subject to collateral consequences stemming from her involuntary admission, and therefore, the circuit court erred in dismissing the case as moot. View "D.L. v. Sheppard Pratt Health System Inc." on Justia Law

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In this class action lawsuit filed by individuals against whom Defendant, an unlicensed debt buyer, obtained judgments in the district court, the Court of Appeals vacated the decision of the Court of Special Appeals affirming the circuit court's rulings with respect to Defendant's liability under the Maryland Consumer Debt Collection Act, Md. Code Title 14, Subtitle 2 of the Commercial Law Article, but remanding the case for retrial on the issue of damages, holding that remand was necessary for a reassessment of damages. Because Defendant was unlicensed, Plaintiffs sought to have the judgments against them declared void and sought monetary damages. The circuit court dismissed the case, concluding that it was an impermissible collateral attack on enrolled judgments. The Court of Special Appeals remanded for trial, ruling that the enrolled judgments were void. On remand, the jury returned verdicts for Plaintiffs and the class. The Court of Special Appeals remanded for a new trial on damages after again holding that the district court judgments were void. The Court of Appeals held (1) the Court of Special Appeals erred in concluding that the judgments were void because the collateral attack on the enrolled judgments was not allowed; and (2) the licensing statute permits a private cause of action for acting as a collection agency without a license. View "LVNV Funding LLC v. Finch" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the Court of Special Appeals affirming the judgment of the circuit court concluding that Petitioners, Baltimore County taxpayers, lacked standing to challenge the County's operation of the Baltimore County Animal Shelter and alleged waste at the facility, holding that Petitioners demonstrated specific injury and thus possessed standing to pursue their claim against Baltimore County under the taxpayer standing doctrine. The circuit court granted the County's motion for summary judgment, holding that Petitioners' alleged pecuniary injury was not developed enough to survive summary judgment. The Court of Special Appeals affirmed. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that Petitioners possessed the requisite taxpayer standing to pursue their claim against the County because they established pecuniary harm derivative of waste and mismanagement, a nexus between that harm and the alleged illegal government act, and sufficiently quantified the alleged harm. View "George v. Baltimore County, Maryland" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the circuit court granting the motion to dismiss filed by Respondent, the Mayor and City Council of Baltimore, as to Taxpayers' complaint for declaratory judgment challenging a new comprehensive rezoning and a new zoning map, as enacted through two ordinances, holding that the circuit court properly determined that Petitioners failed to establish the requisite taxpayer standing to proceed with this case. Specifically, the Court held (1) Petitioners failed to show a special interest in the subject matter of this case distinct from that of the general public by failing to sufficiently allege illegal or ultra vires acts by Respondent that may result in a pecuniary loss or an increase in taxes; and (2) Petitioners failed to demonstrate a nexus between any alleged potential pecuniary harm and the allegedly illegal or ultra vires act. View "Floyd v. Mayor & City Council of Baltimore" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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The Court of Appeals vacated the judgment of the Court of Special Appeals dismissing an appeal, on its own initiative, as premature and remanded the case to that court with instructions to treat the notice of appeal as timely filed, holding that the appeal should proceed on the merits in the Court of Special Appeals. Petitioner petitioned for a writ of certiorari, arguing that he timely filed the notice of appeal and that the appeal should be reinstated. The Court of Appeals exercised its discretion to hold that, under the circumstances of this case and pursuant to Maryland Rule 8-602(g)(1)(D), Petitioner’s notice of appeal should be treated as if it were filed on the same day as but after the entry of the trial court’s final judgment. View "Carver v. RBS Citizens, N.A." on Justia Law

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At issue was what findings a court must make in order to require attorney’s fees to be paid to an adverse party who was subjected to proceedings that were brought in bad faith or lacked substantial justification and what the appropriate means are for calculating attorney’s fees when a court determines that a party’s complaint includes claims that have substantial justification and claims that lack substantial justification. Respondents prevailed in having the trial judge dispose of Petitioner’s claims after the close of the evidence. The hearing judge found no substantial justification for each of Petitioner’s claims against Respondents and awarded $300,000 in attorney’s fees to Respondents. The court of special appeals vacated the circuit court’s judgment, concluding that there was substantial justification as to some of Petitioner’s claims. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the hearing judge (1) did not commit clear error in finding no substantial justification for the claims brought by Petitioner; but (2) abused his discretion in assessing $300,000 in attorney’s fees against Petitioner without articulating how he calculated his fees. View "Christian v. Maternal-Fetal Medicine Associates of Maryland, LLC" on Justia Law

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At issue was what findings a court must make in order to require attorney’s fees to be paid to an adverse party who was subjected to proceedings that were brought in bad faith or lacked substantial justification and what the appropriate means are for calculating attorney’s fees when a court determines that a party’s complaint includes claims that have substantial justification and claims that lack substantial justification. Respondents prevailed in having the trial judge dispose of Petitioner’s claims after the close of the evidence. The hearing judge found no substantial justification for each of Petitioner’s claims against Respondents and awarded $300,000 in attorney’s fees to Respondents. The court of special appeals vacated the circuit court’s judgment, concluding that there was substantial justification as to some of Petitioner’s claims. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the hearing judge (1) did not commit clear error in finding no substantial justification for the claims brought by Petitioner; but (2) abused his discretion in assessing $300,000 in attorney’s fees against Petitioner without articulating how he calculated his fees. View "Christian v. Maternal-Fetal Medicine Associates of Maryland, LLC" on Justia Law

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In this case involving a dispute over real property, the Court of Appeals held that Md. Code Ann. Real Prop. 14-601 to 14-621 and Maryland Rules 12-801 to 12-811 apply retroactively to all cases that were pending when the new statutes and Maryland Rules became effective, including this case, which was pending in the Court of Appeals when the statutes and Maryland Rules became effective. When applied to this case, the new statutes and Maryland Rules do not require dismissal for failure to join a deceased record owner who has no known personal representative. Accordingly, the Court of Appeals reversed the judgment of the Court of Special Appeals and remanded the case to that Court with instructions to vacate the judgment of the circuit court and remand this case to the circuit court for further proceedings, namely, the filing of an amended complaint to quiet title with the appropriate affidavit in accordance with the new statutes and Maryland Rules governing actions to quiet title. View "Estate of Charles Howard Zimmerman v. Blatter" on Justia Law

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At issue was the manner in which Md. Const. art. IV, 22, which provides for an in banc appeal from a “decision of determination of any point or question” by a circuit court judge, is intended to operate. The State in this criminal case filed a request for an in banc review of an order of the circuit court judge granting Defendant’s motion in limine to exclude certain documents and testimony under Reed v. State, 283 Md. 374 (1978). The State sought in banc review, but the request was untimely filed. After a hearing, an in banc court reversed the trial judge’s ruling. The Court of Special Appeals reversed, concluding that “a litigant may not appeal to an in banc panel when the litigant could not note an appeal to [the Court of Special Appeals] successfully.” The Court of Appeals affirmed after analyzing relevant case law and the current version of section 22 in conjunction with Maryland Rule 2-551. The court further outlined the proper procedures a party must follow to reserve the point, question, or judgment for review and held that a decision by the in banc court constitutes a final judgment of that court. View "State v. Phillips" on Justia Law

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The application of Georgia law concerning a pollution exclusion contained in an insurance policy as excluding coverage for bodily injuries resulting from the ingestion of lead-based paint under the principle of lex loci contractus does not violate Maryland public policy. Appellants were exposed to lead-based paint at a property owned by the Salvation Army. Appellants sued Defendants, alleging lead-based paint related tort claims. Liberty Mutual Insurance Company issued comprehensive general liability insurance policies to the Salvation Army. The policies, which were purchased in Georgia, did not include lead-based paint exclusion provisions but did include pollution exclusion provisions. Appellants sought affirmation that Liberty Mutual was obligated to indemnify the Salvation Army and defend against Appellants’ claims. Liberty Mutual moved to dismiss the complaint, arguing that Maryland courts follow the doctrine of lex loci contracts in choosing the applicable law and that, under Georgia law, the insurance policy did not cover claims for lead-based paint poisoning. The Supreme Court held that application of Georgia law concerning the policy’s pollution exclusion under the principle of lex loci contracts does not violate Maryland public policy. View "Brownlee v. Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance Co." on Justia Law