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  • October 11, 2019

New Requirements Concerning Pre-Litigation Discovery of Insurance Policy Limits

For a number of years, Maryland has permitted pre-litigation discovery of insurance policy coverage limits under Md. Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 10-1101, et seq., but only with respect to motor vehicle liability coverage.  As of October 1, 2019, claimants can obtain pre-litigation discovery of insurance information for homeowners’ and renters’ insurance policies as well. Although the scope of the statute has been expanded, there is now a new and significant requirement that Claimants must meet in order to obtain pre-litigation documentation of insurance policy limits.  It is no longer sufficient to simply provide basic information in writing…

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  • July 11, 2018

The Supreme Court, “Professional Speech”, and The First Amendment

On June 26, 2018, just two days before the end of its term, the United States Supreme Court announced its decision in National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra. The case had been closely watched, because it would decide lingering questions about free speech in the context of the national debate over abortion.  The case concerned the California Reproductive Freedom, Accountability, Comprehensive Care and Transparency Act, known as the “FACT Act”. The FACT Act regulated pro-life pregnancy centers (described by the Court as “largely Christian belief-based”), requiring them to provide women with certain notices.  Clinics that were licensed…

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  • January 12, 2018

Major First Amendment Win: Court Sides with FSB on Free Speech Case

Richmond – The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, only one step below the United States Supreme Court, sided with arguments made by the Greater Baltimore Center for Pregnancy Concerns’ attorneys, including those from Ferguson, Schetelich & Ballew, P.A., in a major victory for the First Amendment. The case, which pitted the Greater Baltimore Center for Pregnancy Concerns against the City of Baltimore, touched on one of the core principles of the United States Constitution: the First Amendment protection against compelled speech. The City of Baltimore had passed an ordinance requiring the Center to make postings in…

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  • March 8, 2017

Maryland Court of Appeals Determines That Driver of a Taxi is not Entitled to PIP Under his Personal Auto Policy

On January 23, 2017, the Maryland Court of Appeals, in a split opinion, determined that the driver of a taxicab who was injured in an accident was not entitled to Personal Injury Protection (“PIP”) benefits under his personal automobile insurance policy, which did not insure the taxicab. The cab driver, Alahassan Bundu-Conteh, was rear-ended by a motor vehicle while driving his taxicab. The taxicab was insured by Amalgamated Insurance Company and carried liability-only coverage, which does not include PIP coverage. PIP coverage is limited no-fault coverage, usually in the amount of $2,500.00, that provides a person insured under a policy…

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  • October 7, 2016

A Consumer’s Guide to Automobile Insurance in Maryland

A CONSUMER'S GUIDE TO AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE IN MARYLAND1 Peter J. Basile, Shareholder Ferguson, Schetelich & Ballew, P.A. © 2018 Introduction We represent many clients who have been involved in car accidents, whether they are asserting claims for serious injuries or are being sued for causing injuries to others. Often, after hearing our assessment of their case, our clients remark, “But I have full coverage.” They, like many others, mistakenly assume that having “full coverage” means that they are adequately insured. We have been involved in many cases where our clients’ lives have been adversely affected because they lacked adequate insurance…

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  • July 13, 2016

Maryland Court of Appeals Creates a New Cause of Action Against Adults Who Allow Underage Drinking

The Court of Appeals has broken new ground in Maryland law, holding that parents or other adults who "knowingly and willfully" host an underage drinking party can be held civilly liable for death or injury caused by an intoxicated attendee.  The case is Kirakos v. Phillips, decided on July 5, 2016.  The ruling is the first time the Court has recognized the potential liability of party hosts for alcohol-related harm caused by their guests under the legal drinking age of 21. The unanimous Court based the landmark decision on Maryland Code CR §10-117(b), the criminal statute that makes it illegal…

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  • March 18, 2016

Care Required in Raising Affirmative Defenses

“Cardinal Law, in Lawsuit, Faults Child and Parents in Abuse Case.”  That was the headline of a Fox News Article on April 29, 2002.  The headline was driven by nothing more than a boilerplate affirmative defense in an answer filed on behalf of Cardinal Bernard Francis Law and the Archdiocese of Boston in a lawsuit brought by a person alleging that he was abused as a child by a priest.  The lawyers who filed the answer alleged that the “negligence of the plaintiffs contributed to cause the injury or the damage” and that any damages assessed against Cardinal Law “should…

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  • April 27, 2015

Time for a Uniform Procedure for Minor Settlements in Maryland

In Maryland, if a minor is injured, a claim is presented on behalf of the minor by the minor’s parents or guardians.  Frequently, these claims are resolved before suit is even filed.  Since minors cannot themselves execute binding releases, the defendants and sometimes even the parents or guardians require a judicial determination that the settlement is a final resolution of the minor’s claim so that the child cannot reassert the claim upon attaining the age of majority.  Unfortunately, there is no uniform procedure or rule in Maryland to guide the parties or the courts in this regard.  Sometimes, the parties…

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  • April 22, 2014

Maryland Court of Appeals Holds that Release of a Tortfeasor Does Not Release an Uninsured Motorist Claim

On March 18, 2007, Ember Buckley was a passenger in a vehicle operated by her then boyfriend, Harvey Betts.  The vehicle was involved in a single vehicle accident.  Ms. Buckley was injured and incurred medical bills exceeding $200,000.  Mr. Betts’ liability insurance carrier, GEICO, offered to settle Ms. Buckley’s claim against Mr. Betts for the $100,000 liability policy limits.  Since the GEICO policy limits were not enough to cover her medical bills, Ms. Buckley made a claim for uninsured/underinsured (“UM”) motorist coverage against her own insurer, The Brethren Mutual Insurance Company.  Brethren’s UM policy had limits of $300,000, which afford…

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