COVID-19 Notice: We are providing FREE consultations via phone or video conferencing for your safety and convenience. Learn More »

Articles Posted in Maryland Legal News

Maryland’s state legislature is called the Maryland General Assembly. The General Assembly has an upper and lower house (just like the U.S. Congress and Senate) and members are elected to 4-year terms. The General Assembly meets annually for 3-month sessions at the begging of each calendar year (January to April). Any new laws that get passed in this session at the start of the year go into effect on the 1st of October. So, each year at the start of October Marylanders have to adjust to new laws and 2020 is no exception. Below, I summarize some more significant new Maryland laws that took effect on October 1st

Discrimination Based on Certain Race-Associated Hairstyles is Prohibited

Maryland law already prohibits racial discrimination in employment, housing, and other public services. Now a new amendment to this law will extend that prohibition against discrimination based on certain hairstyles that are commonly associated with African Americans. Hairstyles, specifically hair texture and afro hairstyles, are now included in the state’s definition of “race” for purposes of discrimination. This is one of the very first state laws of this type in the entire country. The law applies to all Maryland employers with 15 or more employees.

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.

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?

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.

The Maryland Senate today took a big step forward on gun control today, approving legislation to require the training, licensing and fingerprinting of handgun purchasers and the banning of purchase of semi-automatic assault weapons.

The Sandy Hook tragedy continues to have long tentacles. Let’s see what the House of Delegates does.

The Maryland Court of Appeals overturned a jury’s verdict this week against Exxon Mobil for its role in the 2006 gasoline leak that contaminated the well water of homes in nearby Jacksonville. Two years ago, a jury awarded the homeowners $1 billion in punitive damages against Exxon.

The Court found that Exxon did not willfully defraud homeowners. According to retired Baltimore County Circuit Court Judge John Fader, “Punitive damages in Maryland can’t be awarded unless there is fraud proven.” The Court also struck down portions of separate verdicts totaling $650 million in compensatory damages.

This, of course, leaves the residents shocked and disappointed, many of which unknowingly drank the water and even made baby formula with the water. At this point, the homeowners’ only option is to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court – which is doubtful at best. A sad, but expected, outcome for these homeowners.

The U.S. Senate finally confirmed William Kayatta Jr. 1st Circuit after making him wait for a year. Kayatta is the first new circuit judge to take the bench since the summer. Kayatta is not a judge but an obviously very well thought of lawyer in Maine. It is full circle for him; Kayatta once clerked on the 1st Circuit.

You can learn more about his confirmation here.

Last Wednesday, the United States District Court for the District of Maryland decided Cornerstone Title & Escrow, Inc. v. Evanston Insurance Co.

This case dealt with an insurance dispute between Cornerstone Title, a title and closing company, and Evanston Insurance. Title companies always seem to get themselves into trouble.

In this case, Plaintiff purchased an insurance policy from Defendant obligating Defendant to indemnify Plaintiff for all damages, which was defined as “the monetary portion of any judgment, award or settlement . . . not [to] include . . . (b) the restitution of consideration or expenses paid to the insured for services or goods.” The policy also contained several exclusions from coverage, which included claims “based upon or arising out of any dishonest, deliberately fraudulent, malicious, willful or knowingly wrongful act or omission committed by or at the direction of the Insured . . . [or] based upon or arising out of the Insured gaining any profit or advantage to which the Insured is not legally entitled.” Take a breath and digest that for a second.

We welcome back to the bar in Maryland a lawyer convicted of a felony after taking an active role to conceal immigration fraud that permitted non-citizens to enter the U.S. illegally. To make this more palatable for us, he described this as “negligent” in his Petition for Reinstatement. I don’t know about you, but that makes me feel tons better. I hope Lance Armstrong tells us his doping scheme was negligent tomorrow.

CareFirst of Maryland fought off a lawsuit in federal court last week alleging that its denial of claims for a woman with Alzheimer in a nursing home during the last years of her life violated her health insurance contract with CareFirst.

There is some interesting commentary in the opinion about the deference due to a treating doctor and exceptions to be made to the deference that might be of interest to personal injury lawyers in Maryland.

You can find the court’s opinion in Carefirst of Maryland v. Wolfehere.