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In Mayor of Baltimore City v. Prime Realty Assocs., L.L.C., the Court of Appeals of Maryland addressed the constitutional issue of notice and the opportunity to be heard.

Let me give you a quick summary and then we will dive deeper into it. The court addressed notice as it pertains to whether or not the method of substituted service upon the State Department of Assessments and Taxation (SDAT) prescribed by Maryland Rule 3-124(o) satisfies a litigant’s due process rights. The court held that Prime Realty’s failure to update its resident agent’s address with the SDAT didn’t invalidate the City’s attempts of service or the City’s use of substituted service upon the SDAT, as prescribed in Rule 3-124(o).

Accordingly, the court found that Maryland Rule 3- 124(o) provides due process of law, and the circuit court erred in invalidating the order ratifying the sale of Prime Realty’s vacant building.

With hundreds of thousands of confirmed cases and increasing deaths worldwide, COVID-19 has quickly become the only topic of conversation.  I can no longer remember what we used to talk about. If you own a business, you have probably felt the effects of the pandemic more substantively.  We have.

The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) will hear oral arguments in late July, about whether to consolidate and centralize lawsuits involving COVID-19 insurance coverage. After the SARS outbreak in 2003, many insurance carriers created policies made to include a vague virus exclusion as a reason for them not to cover businesses who have been paying insurance for years. Unfortunately, in most cases, insurance companies did not offer policies without this exclusion or the ability to buy virus coverage.

On April 20, plaintiffs’ lawyers filed a motion to form an MDL. The motion filed in the Northern District of Illinois (and another was filed in Pennsylvania) alleges that there are two key issues that need to be decided in this litigation: business interruption cases turn on two questions: (1) whether COVID-19 causes “physical damage or loss to property” and, (2) whether the COVID was “present” on the insured property.  Those issues should be decided in one litigation for efficiency and for consistent rulings. The court has yet to decide whether to grant plaintiffs’ motion for an MDL class action.

Metro Verdicts Monthly looks at median settlements and verdicts in all civil rights cases in Maryland, the District of Columbia, and Virginia since 1987.  (This data is a bit older but I think it is still accurate.) The median civil rights award in Maryland is $90,000. The median in Washington DC is $100,000. Incredibly, and I have no explanation for this, the median in Virginia is $200,000, over 100% greater than the civil rights verdicts and settlement in Maryland.

We know for sure that post-George Floyd, we will see a lot more of these. Because juries will be more inclined to believe the victim. The world is changing. Not fast enough. But it is changing.

The following is a sampling of verdicts and settlements that involve the violation of civil rights:

Blood v. Stoneridge at Fountain Green Homeowners is an interesting case not only because the opinion begins with an Elton John verse from “Don’t Let the Sun Come Down on Me.”

Facts of Blood v. Stoneridge

In Blood, two Harford County (Bel Air) homeowners installed solar panels on their roofs. Big solar fans apparently, they installed fifteen solar panels on the front roof and thirty-three solar panels on the rear roof.

This post was originally written in 2008.  Goodness, things have changed in 2020, with COVID and everything else.

Let’s see where we are now with attorney salaries and, specifically, first-year starting salaries for new lawyers in the Baltimore area. Keep in mind so much of this is based on conjecture and rumor, so you have to take it all with a few ounces of salt.

What Do the 2019 Statistics Show?

I frequently get an email that is some version of this one on the diminished value of cars after a crash:

Hello Professor Miller,

It’s [name withheld], and I took Sports Law from you (really learned a lot by the way). Anyway, the reason, for my [voicemail], and why I’m writing is because I have a friend who has a problem. He purchased what I believed was an SUV, brand new in 2006. A few months ago it was stolen and vandalized. The police were eventually able to recover it, but it was totaled. According to my friend the blue book values the car at a certain amount, but the insurance company is not willing to pay him anything near the blue book value of the car. The more time passes the more the value decreases. My friend would like to recover the fair value of his vehicle and would like to know what his recovery rights are. I am sure you are incredibly busy, but my friend also wanted me to refer him to someone I trusted and was an expert in insurance law.

There is an interesting federal court opinion that came out this month on a street artist/violinist who was barred by a police officer from playing the Ocean City boardwalk. Faced with the threat of

arrest, three months in jail and a $500 fine, plaintiff waited a year and filed a lawsuit.

Plaintiff filed a motion for injunctive relief, asking the court order Ocean City not to enforce a 30-foot audibility restriction on the O.C. boardwalk.

Sometimes, I think we should be harder on lawyers who have bad intent. But this is a little over the top for me.

In Attorney Grievance Commission v. Kepple, a lawyer was given an indefinite suspension of at least 30 days because 13 years ago she hid her real state of residence so she could get in-state tuition. Basically, she pretended she lived in West Virginia to get in-state tuition.

How did she get caught? Her spiteful ex-husband ratted her out.

After almost six years, the Maryland Court of Appeals shuts down a public interest group’s attempt to block the creation of a dairy farm creamery. The court found that the third party group did not have standing because the easement they sought to enforce did not include them. A long fight for someone who, as it turned out, had no skin in the game.

Here is what happened. Defendants own an organic dairy farm that is located on 199 acres in the Long Green Valley area of Baltimore County. The Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation (MALPF) is a statutorily created organization that buys easements on farm owner’s lands, making them promise that they will only use it for farming purposes. Competition to get into the program is fierce, but in 1997, Bellevale sold a MALPF easement to MALPF for $796,500.

In 2007, the defendant proposed to build a 10,000 square foot creamery operation on the land and received approval from the MALPF because it created and stored milk, cheese, and other dairy products. The terms were compliant with MALPF’s statutory and organizational goals. However, another land preservation organization, the Long Green Valley Association (LGVA), took issue with the creamery and filed several complaints and emergency hearings with the Deputy Zoning Commissioner for Baltimore County. All the bureaucratic avenues ultimately declared that the creamery counted as a “farm” and was being created for “farming purposes.” Finally, the LGVA filed a lawsuit in the Circuit Court of Baltimore County.