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

Articles Posted in Uncategorized

If someone has wrongfully and intentionally caused you great emotional harm in Maryland, you may have a claim for the intentional inflection of emotional distress.

Maryland law, however, does not make it easy to bring an intention infliction of emotional distress claim.  To bring this tort, the plaintiff must demonstrate a “truly devastating effect” from the defendant’s behavior.  The emotional response must be so awful that “no reasonable person could be expected to endure it.”

What Are the Elements of Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress in Maryland?

The elements of the tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress in Maryland are: (1) the conduct is intentional or reckless; (2) the conduct is extreme and outrageous; (3) there is a causal connection between the wrongful conduct and the emotional distress; and (4) the emotional distress is severe. In order for distress to be sufficiently severe to state a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress, "the plaintiff must show that he suffered a severely disabling emotional response to the defendant's conduct, and that the distress was so severe that "no reasonable man could be expected to endure it.

Does Maryland Law Allow for Negligent Inflection of Emotional Distress Claims?

Maryland law does not recognize the independent tort of negligent infliction of emotional distress. But emotional distress is part of the plaintiff's damages in any case where there is an underlying tort, such as negligence.

The statewide shutdown in response to the COVID-19 pandemic has crippled the economy and left thousands of Marylanders jobless. In the early stages of the pandemic shutdown, stimulus payments and expanded unemployment benefits enable many unemployed homeowners in Maryland to stay afloat financially. But as the economic sheltering continues more and more Marylanders are starting to run out of money and wondering how they are going to make their house payments.

Fortunately, both the federal government and the State of Maryland have enacted new laws and regulations to help struggling homeowners. This page will summarize all the current rules and programs that you need to know about it you are unable to make your house payments anymore.

Mortgage Relief and Foreclosure Protection for Federally Backed Loans

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.

YEAR / STATE

Judge William D. Quarles Jr. denied a motion for summary judgment filed by an accounting firm in a declaratory judgment action seeking coverage for a malpractice claim. A claim against Trice, Geary & Myers alleged that the firm recommended that its clients participate in a defined benefit pension plan which caused them to unnecessarily be audited and forced to incur attorneys’ fees and tax debt. The insurance company, CAMICO Mutual, denied coverage because, well, that is what insurance companies do. CAMICO Mutual says it had no duty to defend the accounting firm because of the underlying allegations related to the insureds’ work as insurance agents and that the policy excluded claims “in connection with or arising out of any act, error or omission by any Insured in his/her capacity as an (insurance) agent or broker.” (Actually, they might have a point here, I hate to say.) I remember having a case in from of Judge Quarles when I was a defense lawyer that I thought was ripe for summary judgment. His response then was essentially, “You probably do but let discovery play itself out a bit first.” Similarly, here the court found discovery appropriate to flush out the arguments. That’s not a bad idea, but I bet that discovery will shed little light on the interpretation of what appears to be an ambiguous contract. One good piece of advice comes out of this case. Get enough coverage to cover any claims that might get filed against you. This is a $180,000 claim with only 100k in coverage even if they can get CAMICO on the hook. You can find the full opinion in Trice, Geary & Myers, LLC v. CAMICO Mutual here.  

Accounting Malpractice Verdicts and Settlements

YEAR / STATE

There is a case pending in federal court, Zuffa v. Thomas, that has some interesting copyright infringement implications as well as some interesting “can you file a lawsuit when you are really not sure exactly what your claim is?” issues. Bonus fun: Zuffa, the plaintiff, is the company that owns the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

UFC apparently has spies that go around and make sure people are not rebroadcasting its fights to large groups. So one of their spies found that the Hotel Charles in southern Maryland was broadcasting the fight to 123 people without purchasing a license to do so.

Both parties have filed motions for summary judgment and they have both been denied. But the judge clearly is concerned that Plaintiff has not yet offered prima facie evidence of copyright infringement. UFC complains that defendants have not responded to discovery so they don’t have the details straight of exactly how they got the fight in the first place. Moreover, they are arguing let’s just put two and two together – there is evidence they played the fight and no evidence that they got it legally so a reasonable jury could only conclude that it infringed on their copyright. I’m inclined to agree with UFC on this premise: if it looks like a duck and walks like a duck…

There are three MDLs currently pending in Maryland. None of them are personal injury/mass tort cases. You can find them here and you can learn more about what an MDL is on our Miller & Zois webpage.

I was looking forward to providing more appellate opinion summaries on this blog in 2013. But, so far, all is quiet on the Annapolis front.

The U.S. Senate has confirmed Stephanie Dawn Thacker, a West Virginia lawyer, 4th Circuit appointment. Soon to be Judge Thacker takes the vacancy created by the death of Judge Blane Michael in March. The surprisingly leftward moving court covers North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Thacker has been a partner at Charleston law firm, Guthrie & Thomas, for the last six years. Before that, she spent seven years with the U.S. Justice Department and has also served as an assistant federal prosecutor and worked for the state attorney general’s office.

Over that time, she must have impressed the heck out of a lot of people to grab a 4th Circuit seat.

There are a lot of new judges to be selected by Governor O’Malley in the near future. Here is a list of applicants.