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The Court of Appeals vacated the judgment of the circuit court affirming the finding of the administrative law judge (ALJ) that Respondent was coerced into submitting to an alcohol breath test required by Md. Code Ann. Transp. 16-205.1. In affirming, the circuit court concluded that substantial evidence supported the ALJ’s decision that Respondent did not voluntarily submit to the testing. The ALJ found, specifically, that the due process afforded to Respondent was insufficient and that the officer’s actions impermissibly induced Respondent to submit to an alcohol breath test. The Court of Appeals disagreed, holding that the ALJ’s determination was erroneous because Respondent failed to establish that there was an insufficient advisement of rights in violation of her due process protections. View "Motor Vehicle Administration v. Smith" on Justia Law

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The doctrine of imputed negligence does not apply to deem an owner-passenger of a motor vehicle contributorily negligent based on the negligence of a permissive driver of the owner-passenger’s vehicle and bar the owner-passenger from recovering compensation from a negligent third party. Here, Jeffrey Mintiens struck a car in which Victoria Worsley was seated. Ms. Worsley’s husband had driven the car to the spot where it was hit. Ms. Worsley filed suit alleging that Mr. Mintiens was negligent. Mr Mintiens raised the defense of contributory negligence. The district court concluded that Ms. Worlsey’s husband had been negligent and that his negligence should be imputed to Ms. Worsley under the doctrine of imputed negligence. Accordingly, the district court entered judgment for Mr. Mintiens. The circuit court affirmed. The Court of Appeals vacated the judgment of the circuit court and remanded with instructions to remand the case to the district court for further proceedings, holding that the imputed negligence doctrine did not apply under the circumstances of this case. View "Mintiens v. Worsley" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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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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In the context of a probable cause determination, the issue of a drug detection dog’s reliability is a legal question to be reviewed de novo. Sergeant Christopher Lamb initiated a traffic stop of a vehicle that Petitioner had been driving. A drug detection dog arrived at the scene of the traffic stop, scanned the vehicle, and alerted to it. Sergeant Lamb searched the vehicle and found drugs inside. The circuit court determined that the drug detection dog was reliable. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) the ultimate question of probable cause to conduct a warrantless search of a vehicle based on a drug detection dog’s alert is reviewed de novo, but the issue of a drug detection dog’s reliability is a factual question, and accordingly, an appellate court reviews for clear error a trial court’s determination as to whether a drug detection dog is, or is not, reliable; and (2) the circuit court in this case did not clearly err in determining that the drug detection dog was reliable, and under the totality of the circumstances, that the arresting officer had probable cause for the search. View "Grimm v. State" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals reversed Defendant’s convictions arising out of a home invasion and robbery, arguing that the trial court erred in giving a missing witness instruction in this case. None of the victims of the crime at issue in this case identified Defendant as a participant in the robbery. Defendant testified that he had been at his mother’s home on the night of the robbery, but his mother did not testify. At the prosecutor’s request, the trial court gave a missing witness instruction that advised the jury that it could infer from the mother’s absence that she would have testified unfavorably to Defendant. The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded for entry of an order vacating Defendant’s convictions, holding that the trial court’s decision to give a missing witness instruction in this case was not harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. View "Harris v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Court of Appeals agreed with the lower courts that Petitioners’ arguments seeking to avoid the application of the caps in the Maryland Tort Claims Act (MTCA) and Md. Code Cts. & Jud. Proc. (CJ) 11-108, as well as the doctrine of sovereign immunity, were without merit. Petitioners were the estate and parents of a State prisoner who was murdered by a fellow prisoner. Petitioners brought suit against the State and various State officials and employees. Petitioners obtained a judgment against the State based on the jury’s finding that certain correctional officers were negligent and a judgment against one correctional officer based on the jury’s finding that he was grossly negligent. The circuit court limited the judgment against the correctional officer pursuant to the cap on noneconomic damages in CJ 11-108 and declined to include the State in the judgment against the correctional officer because the waiver of the State’s sovereign immunity in the MTCA does not extend to actions or omissions that are grossly negligent. The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgments of the lower courts, holding that Petitioners were not entitled to relief on their claims. View "Rodriguez v. Cooper" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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At issue in this case were the Dabbs Class’s claims demanding refunds of impact fees collected by Anne Arundel County between fiscal years 1997-2003. Anne Arundel County imposed road and school impact fees according to County districts beginning in 1987. Those who paid impact fees might become eligible for refunds of those fees under certain circumstances. The Dabbs Class sought refunds on the ground that the impact fees at issue were not expended or encumbered in a timely manner under section 17-11-210(b) of the Anne Arundel County Code and that the amendments to the Impact Fee Ordinance in Bill No. 27-07 and Bill No. 71-08, which codified the County’s procedures for calculating capital expenditures and encumbrances and removed prospectively the refund provision provided in section 17-11-210, unconstitutionally interfered with their vested rights in refunds. The circuit court entered a declaratory judgment for the County. The intermediate appellate court affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the lower courts did not err in (1) concluding that the rough proportionality test/rational nexus test of Nollan v. California Coastal Comm’n, 483 U.S. 825 (1987), and Dolan v. City of Tigard, 512 U.S. 374 (1994), did not apply; and (2) permitting the retroactive application of the legislation and not finding an unconstitutional taking. View "Dabbs v. Anne Arundel County" on Justia Law

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At issue in this case were the Dabbs Class’s claims demanding refunds of impact fees collected by Anne Arundel County between fiscal years 1997-2003. Anne Arundel County imposed road and school impact fees according to County districts beginning in 1987. Those who paid impact fees might become eligible for refunds of those fees under certain circumstances. The Dabbs Class sought refunds on the ground that the impact fees at issue were not expended or encumbered in a timely manner under section 17-11-210(b) of the Anne Arundel County Code and that the amendments to the Impact Fee Ordinance in Bill No. 27-07 and Bill No. 71-08, which codified the County’s procedures for calculating capital expenditures and encumbrances and removed prospectively the refund provision provided in section 17-11-210, unconstitutionally interfered with their vested rights in refunds. The circuit court entered a declaratory judgment for the County. The intermediate appellate court affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the lower courts did not err in (1) concluding that the rough proportionality test/rational nexus test of Nollan v. California Coastal Comm’n, 483 U.S. 825 (1987), and Dolan v. City of Tigard, 512 U.S. 374 (1994), did not apply; and (2) permitting the retroactive application of the legislation and not finding an unconstitutional taking. View "Dabbs v. Anne Arundel County" on Justia Law

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At issue was whether victim impact evidence in the form of a video displaying more than one hundred photographs of Defendant’s victims, with accompanying music, is permissible at a sentencing hearing. Defendant entered an Alford plea to two counts of first-degree murder, one count of robbery, and one count of child kidnapping. During sentencing, Defendant moved to exclude a video with approximately 115 photographs of the two victims set to background music. The sentencing judge allowed the video to be played. The Court of Appeals held that showing the video at the sentencing hearing did not violate Defendant’s constitutional rights. Specifically, the Court held (1) a sentencing judge has discretion to permit any additional form of victim impact evidence outside the constraints of Md. Code Ann. Crim. Proc. (“CP”) 11-402 and CP 11-403; (2) all prepared victim impact evidence, not including victim impact testimony, must be limited to the content prescribed under CP 11-402(e); (3) the Eighth Amendment does not prohibit a sentencing judge from considering victim impact evidence at a defendant’s noncapital sentencing proceeding; and (4) Defendant’s Fourteenth Amendment due process rights were not violated because the disputed victim impact evidence did not inflame the passions of the sentencing judge more than the facts of the crime. View "Lopez v. State" on Justia Law

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At issue was when injuries from asbestos exposure “arise” for purposes of the statute of repose, Md. Code Cts. & Jud. Proc. 5-108. James Piper filed a complaint alleging that at the time he worked in connecting a new steam turbine generator to another turbine he was unknowingly exposed to asbestos as a result of installation of insulating material that contained asbestos. The insulation was installed in 1970. Piper was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2013. In 2014, Piper filed suit against several defendants, including Respondent, which built the major components of the turbine and constructed the turbine. The circuit court granted summary judgment for Respondent. The court of special appeals affirmed, concluding that Piper’s cause of action did not “arise” or “accrue” until 2013, and therefore, the diagnosis of mesothelioma was outside of the twenty-year limitations period set forth in the statute of repose beginning with the operation of the turbine. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) for purposes of asbestos-related causes of action, an injury arises at the time of last exposure to the asbestos-laden product; and (2) because the statute of repose was enacted after the date of Piper’s injuries, as a matter of law, the statute did not bar Piper’s causes of action. View "Duffy v. CBS Corp." on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury