Articles Posted in Civil Procedure

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The circuit court erred in dismissing the minor Appellant’s wrongful death claims as untimely and erred in failing to consider that the time limitation to file a wrongful death action is tolled when the defendant engages in fraudulent conduct that prevents the plaintiffs from bringing a wrongful death action within three years from the date of death, pursuant to Md. Code Cts. & Jud. Proc. 5-203. Cassandra Parker, Craig Parker’s mother, and Craig’s five-year-old child filed a complaint against William Hamilton alleging that Hamilton killed Craig and buried Craig’s remains in order to conceal his wrongdoing. The circuit court granted Hamilton’s motion to dismiss as to the wrongful death claims, concluding that they were time-barred under Md. Code Cts. & Jud. Proc. 3-904. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that both Md. Code Cts. & Jud. Proc. 5-201, which operates to toll a minor plaintiff’s wrongful death claims during the period of his or her minority, and section 5-203. View "Parker v. Hamilton" on Justia Law

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The Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (DPSCS) sent Laura Hughes a notice of termination from her position with the agency. Hughes followed the directions for invoking the first tier of the administrative appeal process. The Secretary of DPSCS did not respond within the statutory time limit, thus denying Hughes first-tier appeal. Hughes was unaware that this silent denial triggered the limited time for her to invoke a second-tier appeal, and therefore she did nothing before the deadline passed. Hughes belatedly attempted to pursue her administrative appeal, but DPSCS did not respond. Hughes then commenced this mandamus action in the circuit court. The circuit court dismissed the mandamus action. The Court of Special Appeals affirmed. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that, in order to discharge its responsibility to provide a disciplined employee with notice of the employee’s administrative appeal rights, an agency must advise the employee of the possibility of a second-tier appeal and alert the employee as to the significance of silence in response to a first-tier appeal. Remanded for consideration whether Hughes should be afforded the opportunity to pursue a second-tier appeal. View "Hughes v. Moyer" on Justia Law

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Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (the Commission) contracted with Fort Myer Construction Corporation to build a pedestrian bridge. After disputes arose, Fort Myer sued the Commission. The Commission impleaded URS Corporation (URS), the engineering firm that created the design documents. The circuit court eventually dismissed Fort Myer’s original complaint, but the claims between URS and the Commission went to trial. Both parties asked the court to award monetary sanctions against Fort Myer on the basis that Fort Myer had litigated its original complaint “without substantial justification.” The circuit court did so. All three parties appealed. The Court of Special Appeals reversed the circuit court’s sanctions awards. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) the intermediate appellate court properly exercised its jurisdiction to decide Fort Myer’s appeal; and (2) as for the sanctions awards against Fort Myer, the circuit court’s explanation of its reasoning did not support a finding that Fort Myer’s pursuit of its claim was “without substantial justification.” View "URS Corp. v. Fort Myer Construction Corp." on Justia Law

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Dr. Mark Geier, David Geier, and Anne Geier (collectively, Respondents) filed a complaint against the Maryland Board of Physicians and related individuals (collectively, Petitioners), alleging that Petitioners invaded their privacy by publicizing their private medical information in a cease and desist order that was issued during disciplinary proceedings. During discovery, the circuit court entered three separate orders challenged by Petitioners. The Court of Appeals (1) granted Respondents’ motion to dismiss as it related to the orders denying Petitioners’ motions for reconsideration of a default order on liability for a series of discovery failures and for a protective order from Respondents’ sixth motion to compel documents, holding that the Court did not have appellate jurisdiction of Petitioners’ appeal regarding these interlocutory orders; and (2) reversed and vacated the order granting Respondents’ sixth motion for sanctions against Petitioner regarding the disclosure audiotapes of Petitioner’s disclosures, holding that the circuit court abused its discretion in granting the motion for sanctions. Remanded. View "Maryland Board of Physicians v. Geier" on Justia Law

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Appellants brought this action just weeks before the 2016 general election seeking to compel the State Board of Elections and the Baltimore City Board of Elections (collectively, Appellees) to establish a special system for “inmate voting” in the City for the general election. The circuit court denied the request for a broadly worded temporary restraining order (TRO), concluding that the complaint had been untimely filed. One day before the 2016 general election, the expedited appeal was argued before the Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals dismissed the appeal as moot, holding that even if the Court were to find that Appellants were entitled to a TRO with respect to the 2016 general election, there was no way such an order could have been implemented as a practical matter. View "Voters Organized for the Integrity of City Elections v. Baltimore City Board of Elections" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, individuals with lung cancer, attempted to join in one action claims against Defendants, asbestos and tobacco companies, alleging that their cancers were caused by their exposure to asbestos and smoking cigarettes. Specifically, Plaintiffs claimed claimed that “the combination of asbestos exposure and cigarette smoking acted in ‘synergy’ and multiplied the risk of developing lung cancer[.]” The trial court refused to permit joinder of the two sets of defendants on the special asbestos docket maintained by the court. The appellate issues dealt with how the trial implemented its decision to deny joinder, and the issues before the Supreme Court were largely procedural. The Court held (1) there was a final judgment in the case; (2) Plaintiff’s appeal, in any event, was moot and should be dismissed on that ground; and (3) the Court of Special Appeals did not err addressing the joinder argument made by Plaintiff for guidance of the lower court in other pending cases. View "R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Stidham" on Justia Law

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In cases consolidated for this appeal, defendants were found guilty but not criminally responsible at the time of the commission of the offense and were committed to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. The court granted conditional releases on various occasions but each conditional release was subsequently revoked, resulting in recommitment to DHMH for treatment. The Maryland Court of Appeal held that the Circuit Court erred in determining that the statutory scheme, Criminal Procedure Article 3-114, for granting or revocation of the conditional release of a committed person violated the separation of powers provision found in Article 8 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights. The court also erred in revoking defendant’s conditional release and ordering his continued commitment for institutional inpatient care and treatment after the ALJ had found that defendant was eligible for conditional release and had recommended the same. The court held that under CP 3-114 the substantial evidence standard applies to a circuit court’s review of an ALJ’s findings of facts and recommendations. View "Stoddard v. State" on Justia Law

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The Fangmans sought to represent a class of approximately 4,000 to 5,000 individuals who, from 2009 to 2014, retained Genuine Title for settlement and title services and utilized various lenders for the purchase and/or refinancing of their residences, allegedly as a result of referrals from the lenders. All of the lenders are servicers of federally related mortgage loans. The complaint alleges an illegal kickback scheme and that “sham companies” that were created by Genuine Title to conceal the kickbacks, which were not disclosed on the HUD-1 form. After dismissing most of the federal claims, the federal court certified to the Maryland Court of Appeals the question of law: Does Md. Code , Real Prop. [(1974, 2015 Repl. Vol.) 14-127 imply a private right of action?” The statute prohibits certain consideration in real estate transactions. That court responded “no” and held that RP 14-127 does not contain an express or implied private right of action, as neither its plain language, legislative history, nor legislative purpose demonstrates any intent on the General Assembly’s part to create a private right of action. View "Fangman v. Genuine Title, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Consumer Protection Division of Maryland’s Office of the Attorney General (CPD) concluded that Petitioner and his companies engaged in unfair and deceptive trade practices in violation of the Maryland Consumer Protection Act (CPA). The CPD issued sanctions, imposed civil penalties, and assessed costs. Thereafter, the Maryland State Board of Plumbing (the Board) opened a complaint against Petitioner alleging that Petitioner had violated the Maryland Plumbing act (MPA). The Board’s case largely consisted of the CPD’s findings and conclusions. The Board, by application of the doctrine of collateral estoppel, adopted the findings of fact made by the CPD and concluded that Petitioner violated the MPA. The Board revoked Petitioner’s master plumber license and imposed a civil penalty. The circuit court ruled that the Board properly invoked collateral estoppel in adopting the CPD’s findings of fact. The Court of Special Appeals affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) the doctrine of offensive non-mutual collateral estoppel is permissible in this State and can be invoked to grant preclusive effect to an administrative order; and (2) Petitioner’s double jeopardy protections were not violated when the Board and the CPD both fined him for the same conduct. View "Garrity v. State Bd. of Plumbing" on Justia Law

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A Guy Named Moe, LLC (Moe), a foreign limited liability company doing business in Maryland, and Chipotle Mexican Grill of Colorado, LLC both operate a chain of restaurants. In 2012, Chipotle applied for a special exception to build a restaurant approximately 425 feet from Moe’s Southwest Grill. The City of Annapolis’s Board of Appeals unanimously approved Chipotle’s request. Thereafter, Moe filed a petition for judicial review. The circuit court dismissed Moe’s petition, finding that Moe lacked standing because it was not a taxpayer under Md. Code Ann. Land Use 4-401(a). The Court of Special Appeals affirmed, holding (1) the petition was void ab initio because, at the time it was filed, Moe’s had lost its right to do business in Maryland because of its failure to register; and (2) Moe was not "a person aggrieved" for standing purposes. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) Moe can Maintain its suit; but (2) Moe was not aggrieved for standing purposes. View "Guy Named Moe, LLC v. Chipotle Mexican Grill of Colorado, LLC" on Justia Law