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Articles Posted in Consumer Law

Yesterday was the first Monday in October, which means the U.S. Supreme Court started its much-ballyhooed new term in which many great issues of our day will be decided. The first case is a Chapter 13 debtor case addressing the issue of how much of a deduction a Chapter 13 debtor can take for a car the debtor owns.

Bankruptcy? Really? Someone wake me up when the Supreme Court moves past bankruptcy law.

One thing to point out before I even begin this post: our law firm does not handle collection cases involving HOAs (or any other kinds of collection cases – just serious personal injury claim). The purpose of the Maryland Lawyer Blog is to allow me to muse on topics outside of Maryland personal injury cases. So I feel compelled to put in this caveat so that we get calls on a collections issue. (Honestly, I don’t know anyone who defends HOA collection cases.)

Anyway, with that unnecessarily long prelude, a Maryland homeowners’ association in Prince George’s County is suing P.G. County Executive Jack Johnson for failure to pay his homeowner’s association dues. In an article I read on this case a few minutes ago, his lawyer defending the case is quoted as saying: “It’s a racket. There is no oversight or regulation.”

Exactly. It is absolutely ridiculous how these HOAs run amok, going after essentially their own clients. I fully support requiring people to pay their bills and charging them a penalty in the process for not paying their debt. I recently handled one of these types of cases for an employee who made an honest mistake, thinking she had prepaid for the year. It is absolute torture dealing with these HOAs that have the agreements with homeowners so rigged that they can extort ridiculous fees that are so out-of-line with the crime of missing a few payments. I also think many deliberately avoid advising the homeowner of the debt so that the penalties accumulate.

Apple faces a lawsuit over an allegation that its iPad easily overheats and turns off.

“The iPad does not live up to the reasonable consumer’s expectations created by Apple insofar as the iPad overheats so quickly under common weather conditions that it does not function for prolonged use outdoors, or in many other warm conditions,” according to the lawsuit filed in federal court in Oakland last week.

It seems to me if your iPad does not work, Apple should get you a new one. But that really should not be a federal case since no one I know that has an iPad has this problem.

A divided Maryland Court of Appeals took away a Baltimore County jury verdict against Bank of America on Thursday in a case relevant to personal injury lawyers to the extent that it underscores when expert testimony may be needed at trial.

This case appears to be the classic “money-grubber woman takes advantage of an old man” story. BOA allowed said money-grubber to add her name on to the man’s account. After his death, his son looked at the bank statements and brought a claim on behalf of the Estate against BOA for breach of contract and negligence for allowing the woman to be added onto the account in the first place.

The jury bought it, awarding $23,475 on the breach of contract claim and $7,600 on the negligence claim. The Maryland Court of Special Appeals reversed, finding that expert testimony was necessary to establish BOA’s standard of care when adding an individual’s name to a bank account.

A class-action suit alleges that Facebook’s new privacy settings exposes Facebook users to “identity theft, harassment, embarrassment, intrusion and all types of cybercrime.”

I really can’t think of a dumber lawsuit. Couldn’t these victims just get off Facebook?

little guy the manThe Maryland Daily Record reports today that the little guy might get over on the man. Tens of thousands of Maryland debt-collection lawsuits may be dismissed because the collections firm that brought the claims, Mann Bracken LLP, is going under. The firm, which had office around the country, had an office here in Rockville. If these cases are dismissed, the firm faces a creditors legal malpractice action. I wonder if they have coverage.

I would think Maryland District Court judges everywhere are cracking champagne. These cases must be incredibly boring and time consuming.

I was amazed that there is actually a blog that is tracking the fall of this law firm. Can you imagine? I guess personal injury lawyers are beloved compared to collection lawyers. You can find this blog for yourself here.

The Severna Park Fitness and Health Blog reports that Harbor Nautilus in Westminster has been charged with several violations of Maryland’s Heath Club law. Many consumers have trepidations about health and fitness clubs taking money out of their accounts electronically every month. This is a reminder that it is worth it to look at your bank statements every month. This might be a statement of the obvious, but I think an alarming number of consumers in Maryland do not.

The tough thing about a case like this is that a lawyer will not touch it with a ten-foot pole because the economics involve such small amounts of money. Accordingly, the state of Maryland is really the first and last resource to protect consumers.

Dear Maryland Daily Record Editor:

Unless they hail from Hollywood, I don’t expect lawyers to be savvy enough to have had enough foresight not to be all smiles on an article about bankruptcy, but I think your paper could have been more thoughtful. (Maryland Lawyer cover story, “The Business of Bankruptcy Law,” October 6, 2008)

In hindsight, I am sure these attorneys did not want to appear gleeful about the fact that the misfortune of others has caused their business to skyrocket.

The Severna Park Fitness and Health Blog, published by Club One Fitness in Millersville, has a post today on a Maryland Daily Record article written by Danny Jacobs involving a woman who sued the Maryland Athletic Club (“MAC”) over a theft that occurred at the club. The case was settled by the Maryland Athletic Club just before it went to trial in Baltimore City earlier this month.

I’m surprised the Maryland Athletic Club did not file a motion for summary judgment based on what I’m sure is a clause in their contract that says they are not responsible for thefts at their gym even if the theft is because of the Maryland Athletic Club’s negligence. (I’m assuming, I have never read the MAC’s contract.) According to Seigneur v. National Fitness Inst., Inc., 132 Md. App. 271(2000), this is permissible contract language.

Elsewhere, I have talked about how so many silly cases in Maryland find their way to Circuit Court, which decreases average jury verdicts in Maryland well below the national average. This is yet another example.