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The subject of DNA testing has been increasingly prevalent in Maryland courtrooms. In the past few months, a Maryland case (Maryland v. King) was argued in the Supreme Court on whether an arrested person’s DNA could be legally taken. No matter one’s view on its collection, DNA sometimes plays a large role in determining who did or did not do something. However, they recently decided that Brown v. Maryland shows an example of how allegedly exonerating DNA results that might not even matter.

Brown features a particularly violent assault and rape of a young woman. She was abducted, beaten, handcuffed, and tortured– among other things, that the court understated as being “not pretty.” I think the word “unimaginable” works.

Anyway, Brown was found guilty and convicted to eighty-five years in prison. Now he attempted to utilize a new Maryland statute that granted a new trial if post-conviction DNA was (1) favorable to the petitioner and there was (2) a substantial possibility…that the petitioner would not have been convicted if the results were known at trial.

Four former and current black police officers in Annapolis have filed suit in federal court against the city. The officers claiming they were discriminated against because they are black and, as a result, were turned down for promotions and opportunities to advance.

These kinds of cases are so hard to prove even when they are true. Two of the officers argue disparate treatment which means while the City of Annapolis might use facially neutral employment practices, they have had an unjustified adverse impact on these black officers. In other words, maybe it was not intentional discrimination, but it is.

The Baltimore Sun reports that the city has 26 black officers on its 117-member force, which sounds reasonable. But that does not mean there was no discrimination. You just can’t read a story like this and know what happened.

A federal judge in Baltimore ruled that a gender discrimination lawsuit against Ripken Professional Baseball will continue, rejecting Ripken’s argument that the case should be dismissed or that arbitration should be compelled.

Interesting facts. Woman takes a job with Ripken Baseball in 2006 as an Account Representative. She gets promoted to Assistant General Manager of Ticket Sales in 2010. In 2011, she started dating a subordinate employee which she claims happened all the time at Ripken (like it does in the rest of the world) in spite of the fact that the employee handbook says it is a no-no. Ripken – not Cal, I’m referring to the organization – fires her, citing the relationship and, perhaps more importantly, that they told others to lie about the affair. The woman alleges that she was treated differently from her male colleagues who engaged in similar behavior with subordinates.

If true, maybe she was discriminated against? But that does not answer the question. Maybe she was discriminated against because she was not as good an employee as the others. The question, in this case, is whether she would have been fired if she was a man. Boy, that is a tough question for a judge or jury to figure out.

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.)

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.

The Maryland Court of Special Appeals issued an opinion in Seriou V. Baystate Properties last week that discusses some interesting issues regarding piercing the corporate veil and Maryland, and when a court can allow a lawyer to strike an appearance.

Under Maryland law, LLCs are normally protected from personal liability. There are, however, instances when a Maryland court will find that members can be personally liable in order to “prevent fraud or enforce a paramount equity.” This is called “piercing the corporate veil.”

In this case, the builder and the owner of the LLC entered into a contract. The builder was to build two houses on the owner’s property. Although the builder completed building the two houses, the builder was not paid for services.

Visiting and retired Judge Dennis Sweeney found Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold guilty of misconduct in office for using his security detail for political activity.

This was an easy call, I think. From my seat in the back row, the evidence seemed obvious. What I found disgusting from the perspective of a personal injury lawyer was the defense argument that Leopold was suffering from debilitating back pain and needed more help from his security detail and staff. Utter nonsense and really a slap to truly injured people everywhere. The people of Anne Arundel County deserve better.

Glad they got him. You can find the Post’s article here.