Justia Maryland Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Consumer Law
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Defendant was assigned the serving rights to Plaintiff's mortgage on a piece of property. Plaintiff sued Defendant, claiming that Defendant attempted to collect more than was due on the loan. The parties settled. Plaintiff then filed this action against Defendant, alleging breach of the settlement agreement, defamation, and violations of the Maryland Consumer Debt Collection Act and the Maryland Consumer Protection Act. An order of default was later entered against Defendant. Defendant subsequently filed a motion for a new trial or to alter or amend the judgment, requesting that the default judgments be set aside because Plaintiff's claims were legally deficient. The trial court denied the motion. The court of special appeals affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that a defaulting party who does not file a motion to vacate the order of default after a default judgment has been entered cannot file a Maryland Rule 2-534 motion to alter or amend a judgment to contest liability, and the defaulting party cannot appeal that judgment in order to contest liability. View "Franklin Credit Mgmt. Corp. v. Nefflen" on Justia Law

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These two consolidated appeals concerned two appellants who separately sued the Housing Authority for Baltimore County (HABC) for negligence and violations of the Maryland Consumer Protection Act (CPA) for injuries arising out of Appellants' alleged exposure to lead paint in properties that HABC owned and operated. The circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of HABC, finding that Appellants in both cases did not substantially comply with the notice requirement of the Local Government Tort Claims Act (LGTCA). The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) the circuit court properly concluded that Appellants did not substantially comply with the LGTCA notice requirement; (2) the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in determining that Appellants did not show good cause for their failure to comply with the LGTCA notice requirement; and (3) the LGTCA notice requirement, as applied to a minor plaintiff in a lead paint action against HABC, does not violate Article 19 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights. View "Ellis v. Housing Auth of Baltimore County" on Justia Law

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Petitioner filed a complaint against multiple defendants alleging negligence and violations of Maryland's Consumer Protection Act (CPA) for injuries resulting from his exposure to lead-based paint when he lived at two properties in Baltimore City while he was an infant. At the close of discovery, Defendants filed several dispositive and evidentiary motions, which the trial court granted. The court of special appeals affirmed. At issue before the Court of Appeals was the exclusion of a lead test report, the exclusion of testimony by Petitioner's medical expert, and the grant of summary judgment as to Petitioner's CPA cause of action. The Court of Appeals reversed in part and affirmed in part, holding (1) the court of special appeals erred in holding that the trial judge did not abuse her discretion in excluding the lead test report and the testimony by Petitioner's medical expert; and (2) the court of special appeals did not err in affirming the circuit court's grant of summary judgment as to Petitioner's cause of action under the CPA. Remanded. View "Butler v. S&S P'ship" on Justia Law

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This dispute arose out of the alleged exposure of Plaintiff to lead paint at the homes in which she spent her childhood. Petitioner, by her mother, sued the owners of two of the homes, for negligence and unfair trade practices under the Consumer Protection Act. Only the claims against the second owner proceeded to trial. The circuit court awarded summary judgment in favor of Defendant after excluding proposed expert opinion testimony of a pediatrician to establish Defendant's building as the source of Plaintiff's lead exposure and elevated blood lead levels. The Court of Appeals affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) the circuit court did not abuse its discretion when it excluded the proposed expert testimony; but (2) summary judgment in this case was not appropriate, as disputes of material fact existed to foreclose a grant of summary judgment. View "Ross v. Housing Auth. of Baltimore City" 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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Petitioner filed a complaint against Respondent for unfair and deceptive trade practices and for common law fraud. Petitioner's complaint was based on an automobile warranty he purchased from Respondent that expired more than two years earlier than he had been led to believe. Petitioner purported to bring his action on behalf of others similarly situated. Before Petitioner filed a motion to certify the class, however, Respondent paid to extend Petitioner's warranty. The circuit court (1) denied Petitioner's motion for class certification, finding that because he had been made whole, Petitioner was no longer a member of any class; (2) granted in part Respondent's motion for summary judgment, finding Petitioner's claim moot; and (3) granted Petitioner attorney's fees for the period before and after Respondent tendered Petitioner individual relief. The Court of Appeals affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) Respondent's tender of individual compensatory relief to Petitioner did not require the court to deny class certification; (2) an award of punitive damages is not foreclosed by the tender of individual compensatory damages; and (3) an award of attorney's fees to Petitioner under a fee-shifting provision of the Consumer Protection Act is not limited to fees incurred before the tender. View "Frazier v. Castle Ford, Ltd." on Justia Law

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On behalf of himself and a proposed class of others similarly situated, Plaintiff filed an action challenging the legality of Ticketmaster's collection of a service charge on a concert ticket he purchased for a concert in the city. The complaint was based on provisions of the Baltimore City Code. The Supreme Court accepted certification to answer questions of law and held (1) if a ticket agency is authorized in writing by a licensed exhibitor to sell tickets as an agent of the exhibitor, the ticket agency is not required to be licensed; (2) the Code prohibits the collection of a service charge, in addition to the established price printed on the ticket, in connection with the original sale of the ticket by the exhibitor, and is not limited to ticket resales; (3) the Code does not permit anyone other than a ticket agency licensed under the Code to collect anything more for a ticket than the established price printed on the ticket plus taxes; and (4) a common law action for money had and received will lie to recover money paid in excess of that allowed by statute if the agreement pursuant to which it has been paid has not been fully consummated. View "Bourgeois v. Live Nation Entm't, Inc." on Justia Law

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At issue in this appeal was whether the Maryland Credit Services Businesses Act (CSBA) applies to a tax preparer who receives payment from a lending bank for facilitating a consumer's obtention of a refund anticipation loan (RAL) where the tax preparer receives no direct payment from the consumer for this service. In this case, the circuit court dismissed Consumer's CSBA claim for failure to state a claim, concluding that the General Assembly enacted the CSBA to regulate credit repair agencies and not RAL facilitators. The court of special appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the plain language of the CSBA most logically is understood as reflecting the legislative intent that the "payment of money or other valuable consideration" in return for credit services flow directly from the consumer to the credit service business; and (2) therefore, under the CSBA, Tax Preparer in this case was not a "credit services business" nor a "consumer"; and (3) accordingly, the CSBA did not apply in this case. View "Gomez v. Jackson Hewitt, Inc." on Justia Law

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At issue in this case was the scope of authority of the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division to issue administrative subpoenas in aid of its investigation into potential unfair and deceptive trade practices. The Division in this case sought documents it claimed were relevant to its investigation of Washington Home Remodelers (WHR). WHR demurred, asserting that the Division overreached by seeking discovery into matters in which the regulatory authority resided exclusively with either the Commissioner of Financial Regulation of the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (DLLR) or the Maryland Home Improvement Commission under their respective enabling statutes. The circuit court ordered the subpoena's enforcement. WHR appealed, insisting that the Division subpoena was not authorized by law. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the Division's subpoena was authorized by the Consumer Protection Act, and therefore, the Court did not need to delve into conflicting investigatory prerogatives of separate administrative agencies. View "Wash. Home Remodelers, Inc. v. Attorney Gen., Consumer Prot. Div." on Justia Law

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This case involved a long-standing dispute between Appellants, the Tomes Landing Condominium Association and MRA Property Management, and Appellees, twenty-five condominium unit purchasers. The unit purchasers were granted partial summary judgment in the amount of one million dollars against MRA and the Association on the ground that the operating budget that MRA and the Association supplied as part of a "resale package" provided to the unit purchasers violated the Maryland Consumer Protection Act (Act) because the budgets had the effect of misleading the unit purchasers in connection with their purchases of the condominiums. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the etnry of summary judgment was inappropriate, as (1) the Act could apply to disclosures made in a resale certificate by a condominium association and its management company during the sale of a condominium; and (2) there existed a dispute of material facts as to whether the operating budgets provided by MRA and the Association to the unit purchasers constituted unfair or deceptive trade practices under the Act. View "MRA Prop. Mgmt., Inc. v. Armstrong" on Justia Law