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  • January 6, 2017

Maryland Landlords Seek Clarity in Light of Recent Rulings from the Court of Appeals

Recent court decisions have created great uncertainty in the law concerning: (i) the definition of “rent;” (ii) whether unpaid utility expenses and/or other unpaid expenses can be pursued in addition to unpaid rent in a failure to pay rent action; and (iii) how the other unpaid expenses can be pursued in Rent Court. The Maryland residential tenancy statutes provide two types of District Court actions for landlords: (i) an action for failure to pay rent, pursuant to Md. Code Ann., Real Prop. § 8-401 (2016); and (ii) an action for breaches of covenants within the lease other than for failure…

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  • October 14, 2016

The Claims of Minors in Wrongful Death Claims Must be Brought Within Three Years of the Decedent’s Death

Wrongful death claims are a creature of statute.  There is no common law claim for wrongful death.  Maryland's Wrongful Death Act, codified in Md. Cts. and Jud. Proc., Title 3, Subtitle 9 (the "Act"), identifies those individuals who are beneficiaries under the Act, which include the children of the deceased individual.  Often, the children who are entitled to assert the claim are minors.  Ordinarily, a cause of action for wrongful death must be brought within three years from the decedent's demise.  Maryland law, however, has long stated that limitations for a minor’s claim do not start running until the minor…

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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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  • August 1, 2016

Dissociative Amnesia Does Not Toll the Statute of Limitations

Note to reader: This blog does not name any of the parties in the lawsuit, even though the reported opinion does. During a hospitalization in January, 2014 at an inpatient trauma disorders unit for depression and suicidal ideation, R.A. remembered the sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of her father during her childhood, which was between 29 to 47 years earlier. This, in turn, triggered a similar reaction in R.A.’s two sisters, both of whom also allege that they were sexually abused as children by their father. In February, 2014, the three sisters reported the alleged sexual abuse to…

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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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  • June 29, 2016

Location, Location, Location: The More Complicated Side of Premises Liability Law

It is well established in Maryland premises liability matters that “the duty of care an owner or occupier of land owes a visitor varies, depending on whether the entrant is an invitee, licensee, or trespasser.”  Deboy v. City of Crisfield, 167 Md. App. 548, 555 (2006).  “The highest duty is that owed to an invitee; it is the duty to ‘use reasonable and ordinary care to keep [the] premises safe for the invitee and to protect [the invitee] from injury caused by an unreasonable risk which the invitee, by exercising ordinary care for [the invitee’s] own safety will not discover.’” …

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  • June 1, 2016

Admissibility of Disiplinary Action Against Medical Experts in Maryland

Many attorneys tend to gravitate toward experts they have used in the past, which should not surprise anyone.  If you have a positive experience with an expert, then you will likely look to use the same expert again in the future when the need arises.  If you have been injured and hire an attorney to represent you, then he or she will decide with you whether the case would benefit from an expert.  This could be a liability expert, a medical expert, or both. If you have a medical expert who was not a treating physician, it is usually to…

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  • April 15, 2016

Recent Strict Liability Case Contains Important Lesson for Parties and Practitioners

In early March 2016, a small-town dispute reached the Maryland Court of Appeals and somewhat surprisingly garnered coverage in several prominent local publications, including The Frederick News Post,[1] The Daily Record,[2] and The Washington Post.[3]  In Toms v. Calvary Assembly of God, Inc., Mr. Toms, a dairy farmer in Walkersville, Maryland, sued the Calvary Assembly of God (“the Church”), alleging that the noise from the Church’s fireworks display on an adjacent farm caused Mr. Toms’s cows to stampede.  In the stampede, several of Mr. Toms’s cows sustained injuries, and some died.  After Mr. Toms lost in both the District Court…

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  • February 22, 2016

Destruction of Physical Evidence at the Core of a Claim Can Result in Dismissal Under Maryland Law

In a decision filed February 1, 2016 and drafted by Judge Douglas Nazarian, the Court of Special Appeals underscored the importance of preserving physical evidence at issue in a lawsuit, especially when the physical evidence “is itself the subject of the case.”  Cumberland Ins. Group v. Delmarva Power, 72 Sept. Term 2015, Slip Op. at 8 (Feb. 1, 2016).  Destroying or failing to preserve such evidence may result in sanctions more stringent than a jury instruction of an unfavorable inference and, instead, may warrant an outright dismissal of the spoliating party’s claim. The case involves a fire at a home…

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  • January 27, 2016

Robert L. Ferguson, Jr. and Ann D. Ware Win Another Coverage Case in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

  Robert L. Ferguson, Jr. and Ann D. Ware won another appeal argued before the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.  This is their second successful 4th Circuit appeal in the span of a few months.  In this most recent matter, Mr. Ferguson argued that a Crew Provision in a marine insurance policy was unambiguous and that a reasonably prudent layperson construing the policy would conclude that there was no coverage for the Appellant.   In an unpublished opinion, the Fourth Circuit agreed with Mr. Ferguson and affirmed the United States District Court for the District of Maryland’s…

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