Articles Posted in Commercial Law

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Respondent had his vehicle serviced at Russel Collision and was billed for the repairs. Jeremy Martin, Russel Collision’s manager, later signed a “Notice of Sale of Motor Vehicle to Satisfy a Lien” for Respondent’s vehicle. The notice listed the “cost of process” at $1,000, which was the amount to which Russel Collision and Allstate Lien agreed they were entitled to keep Respondent’s car and sell it unless Respondent paid the costs related to the future sale of the car. Respondent’s vehicle was eventually sold at auction. Respondent filed suit against Russel Collision, Martin, and Allstate Lien, alleging that Md. Code Ann. Com. Law ("CL") 16-202(c), which provided Russel Collision a lien for Respondent’s vehicle, does not permit lien recovery costs of $1,000 as fees prior to the sale of the car. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Respondent. The Court of Special Appeals affirmed, holding that, under CL 16-202(c), a motor vehicle lien does not encompass “cost of process” fees and that such fees should not be included in the amount the customer must pay to redeem the vehicle. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that a garagemen’s lien does not encompass lien enforcement costs or expenses or cost of process fees prior to sale should the owner attempt to redeem the vehicle before sale. View "Allstate Lien & Recovery Corp. v. Stansbury" on Justia Law

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Gladys Garner and Randolph Scott defaulted on their respective automobile loan agreements. Both contracts were governed by the provisions of the Creditor Grantor Closed End Credit Act of the Commercial Law Article (CLEC). The contracts were later assigned to Ally Financial, Inc., Nuvell National Auto Finance, and Nuvell Financial Services (collectively, GMAC). GMAC repossessed both vehicles and informed the debtors that the vehicles would be sold at a "public auction." Both cars were later sold. The debtors filed separate complaints against GMAC alleging, in part, that GMAC violated the CLEC because the sales of their cars were in reality "private sales," requiring GMAC to provide a detailed post-sale disclosure to them under the CLEC, which GMAC had not done. The federal district court combined the cases and granted summary judgment for GMAC, concluding the sales were "public auctions" because they were both widely advertised and open to the public for competitive bidding. The federal appellate court then certified an issue for clarification to the Maryland Court of Appeals. The Court answered that the auctions were in reality "private sales" because attendance was limited to those who paid a refundable $1,000 cash deposit. View "Gardner v. Ally Fin., Inc." on Justia Law

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This case stemmed from the judicial sale of a condominium owned by Petitioner and conducted by two court-appointed trustees that were employed by a law firm (collectively, Respondents). Following the sale, Petitioner filed a complaint, alleging breach of fiduciary duty involving actual fraud and breach of fiduciary duty involving constructive fraud by the trustees and alleging vicarious liability by the law firm. The trial judge granted Respondents' motion to dismiss, concluding that Respondents were entitled to qualified judicial immunity for their actions in connection with the sale. The court of special appeals (1) reversed with regard to Petitioner's allegations of actual fraud, and (2) affirmed with regard to the other causes of action on grounds of qualified judicial immunity. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding that Respondents were not entitled to absolute judicial immunity, and the concept of qualified public official immunity was inapplicable to the circumstances of this case. View "D'Aoust v. Diamond" on Justia Law

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Verizon Maryland, a telecommunications company, and the staff of the Public Service Commission (PSC) obtained PSC approval of a global settlement of six pending cases. Verizon employed an alternative form of regulation (AFOR) under Md. Code Ann. Pub. Util. Co. (PUC) 4-301 that included up to $6,000,000 in bill credits to customers with out-of-service complaints that were not resolved in compliance with specified standards. PSC approved the AFOR pursuant to PUC 4-301. A technicians union objected, contending that the service quality aspects of the AFOR did not ensure the quality, availability, and reliability of service required by PUC 4-301. The circuit court affirmed PSC's approval of the AFOR. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that PSC acted within its discretion in approving the AFOR, as PUC 4-301's use of the term "ensuring" did not require that PSC be completely certain that Verizon's incentive strategy would result in compliance with standards. View "Commc'ns Workers of Am., ALF-CIO v. Pub. Serv. Comm'n of Md." on Justia Law

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This case arose out of a mortgage foreclosure proceeding involving a residential sale. In the advertisement for the sale, the trustees included an additional condition not found in the mortgage documents or authorized by the Maryland Rules that any successful purchaser at the sale would be required to pay the legal fees of attorneys who would be utilized to review the documents on behalf of the trustees by which they would hold settlement and ultimately convey title. The circuit court and court of special appeals ratified the sale. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that in the absence of specific authority in the contract of indebtedness or contained in statute or court rule, it is an impermissible abuse of discretion for trustees or the lenders who 'bid in' properties to include the demand for additional legal fees for the benefit of the trustees in the advertisement of sale or in any other way that is in contrary to the duty of trustees to maximize the proceeds of the sales and, moreover, is not in conformance with state or local rules and is against public policy. View "Maddox v. Cohn" on Justia Law

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After an auction sale was ratified, Respondent David Simard defaulted on his contract to purchase the real property in question. Simard admitted liability for the risk and expense of the initial resale, but when the purchaser at the resale defaulted as well, Simard balked at paying the expense and loss incurred at a second resale. Applying Md. R. Civ. P. 14-305(g), the circuit court held that Simard was liable for the risk and expense of both resales. The court of special appeals reversed, holding that Rule 14-305(g) required that a defaulting purchaser be responsible for only one resale. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that absent special circumstances, a defaulting purchaser at a foreclosure sale of property is liable, under Rule 14-305(g), for only the one resale resulting from his or her default. View "Burson v. Simard" on Justia Law

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Petitioners defaulted on their refinanced home mortgage because of financial hardships. Faced with foreclosure, Petitioners initiated a request to enjoin the foreclosure action filed by Respondents. Respondents, the substitute trustees under the mortgage and Deutsche Bank, possessed and sought to enforce an under-indorsed mortgage note, which, prior to coming into their possession, was transferred three times intermediately, bundled with a multitude of other mortgages, securitized, lost, and then discovered before the ultimate evidentiary hearing leading to the foreclosure sale. The trial court denied injunctive relief to Petitioners, and the court of special appeals affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that Respondents were nonholders in possession and entitled to enforce the note and deed of trust through foreclosure. View "Anderson v. Burson" on Justia Law

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In this action, secured parties, as creditors in bankruptcy proceedings and appellees here, attempted in separate cases before the bankruptcy court to execute on four deeds of trust whose affidavits of considerations were missing or improper. Appellants, four trustees in bankruptcy, argued that those defects rendered the deeds of trust invalid such that the trustees possessed the properties free and clear of the creditor's interests. The creditors countered that Md. Code Ann. Real Prop. 4-109 cured the defects at issue. The Court of Appeals accepted certified questions regarding the statute and answered them in the affirmative, holding that Section 4-109 is unambiguous, and pursuant to the plain language of the statute and as confirmed by legislative history, cures the type of defects identified by the trustees, including missing or improper affidavits or acknowledgments, unless a timely judicial challenge is mounted. View "Guttman v. Wells Fargo Bank" on Justia Law

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Three separate sets of repairs were made to a waste hauler purchased by Consolidated Waste from Standard Equipment. Consolidated Waste filed a complaint in circuit court, seeking to recoup the cost of the second round of repairs and claiming that the first and second set of repairs, performed by Standard Equipment, were made in such a way as to constitute a breach of contract and negligence. The circuit court entered judgment in favor of Standard Equipment. After appealing to the court of special appeals, the Court of Appeals issued a writ of certiorari. The Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court, holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion (1) by excluding evidence of the third round of repairs, performed by a different company, as a reasonable trial judge could have determined that the danger of prejudice outweighed substantially any probative value of the evidence; and (2) by utilizing a verdict sheet supplied by Standard Equipment. View "Consolidated Waste Indus. v. Standard Equip. Co." on Justia Law

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Debtor Maureen Roberson filed a petition under Chapter 13 of Title 11 of the Bankruptcy Code, alleging that Ford Motor Credit Company wrongfully repossessed her car in the wake of her prior Chapter 7 bankruptcy charge and seeking to recover damages from Ford. During the proceedings, Ford filed a motion for summary judgment. Before the court could rule on the motion, Roberson filed a motion seeking certification of the question of whether a secured creditor is permitted under Maryland law to repossess in a car in which it maintains a security interest when the debtor has filed a bankruptcy petition and has failed to reaffirm the indebtedness, but has otherwise made timely payments before, during, and after bankruptcy proceedings. The Bankruptcy Court granted the motion. The Supreme Court answered the certified question in the positive because the parties agreed that Ford elected Section 12-1023(b) of the Credit Grantor Closed End Credit Provisions, Commercial Law Article, Maryland Code, to govern the retail installment contract in the present case. View "Ford Motor Credit Co., L.L.C. v. Roberson" on Justia Law