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  • July 27, 2020

Landmark Victory for School Choice and Religious Freedom

The Supreme Court’s decision in Espinoza vs. Montana Department of Revenue was a significant win for advocates of school choice and those who believe that faith-based schools should be able to more fully participate in government programs. In its landmark 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court was faced with a school choice program the State of Montana sought to eliminate because it had to include religious schools. The Court ruled that Montana had to maintain the program, and its act to eliminate a generally applicable benefit just to avoid participation by religious schools was a violation of the constitutional guarantee of…

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  • July 14, 2020

Court of Appeals of Maryland Decides Construction Case of First Impression Agreeing With FSB Argument

On May 26, 2020, the Court of Appeals of Maryland issued an opinion in the case of Gables Construction, Inc. v. Red Coats, Inc. that decided an important issue of first impression under Maryland law.  The question before the Court was whether there is a right to joint tort-feasor contribution where waiver of subrogation (common in construction contracts) bars the third-party defendant’s liability to the injured party.  The Court held that there is no such right, securing a major victory not only for Gables Construction (represented by Ferguson, Schetelich & Ballew), but also for all contractors and architects who operate under—and rely…

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  • June 10, 2020

Fitzgerald v. Bell: The Discovery Rule Does Not Toll the Statute of Limitation for Negotiable Instruments

A recent decision of the Maryland Court of Special Appeals Banks has clarified an important protection for banks and financial institutions regarding checks and other instruments that it honors.   Banks are often named in lawsuits alleging conversion or wrongful payment of checks. The Uniform Commercial Code, as adopted in Maryland, sets out the statutes of limitations that apply to claims on negotiable instruments. See Md. Code Ann., Com. Law § 3-118. The language of the statute suggests that the limitations period begins to run when the check or instrument is presented for payment.   Maryland generally follows the discovery…

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  • May 26, 2020

How long until the “great unknown” becomes “the new normal”? Navigating Commercial General Liability Insurance in the age of the Covid-19

The novel coronavirus (Covid-19) has and will continue to present novel issues in all facets or our lives.  The insurance arena is no exception.  Questions related to insurance claims, coverage, and defense have already begun to arise in the wake of Covid-19.  As the quickly changing landscape continues to evolve, particularly with communities and businesses beginning to reopen, these insurance related queries and considerations will increase and grow more complex and nuanced.   Businesses need to be aware of potential claims.  These could include allegations that a business negligently failed to protect or to warn third parties against the risks…

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  • May 14, 2020

Freedom of Religion and COVID-19: Can State Government Close Churches?

Across the nation, State Governors have issued Executive Orders restricting the operation of businesses and the daily activities of individuals. They are doing so in response to the COVID-19 pandemic which has swept America and the world. These Orders often include prohibitions on the gathering of 10 or more people in any enclosed space. Churches have not been exempt from these Executive Orders, and religious activities are usually expressly included. The effect has been to close churches for Sunday worship and other ministries, and to likewise restrict services in synagogues and mosques. Churches have generally complied and cooperated with the…

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  • March 23, 2020

IRS Issues Notice 2020-17 and Notice 2020-18 and Extends Payment Deadline and Filing Deadline for Taxpayers Affected by Ongoing Coronavirus

On March 13, 2020, the President of the United States issued an emergency declaration under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act in response to the ongoing Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic (Emergency Declaration). The Emergency Declaration instructed the Secretary of the Treasury "to provide relief from tax deadlines to Americans who have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 emergency, as appropriate, pursuant to 26 U.S.C. 7508A(a) ." On March 18 & 20, 2020 and pursuant to this mandate, the IRS issued Notices 2020-17 and 2020-18 extending the date for making tax filings and payments due April…

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  • March 23, 2020

Employer Tax Credits Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act

On March 18, 2020, Congress passed and President Trump signed into law the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, H.R. 6201 (Act). The Act, which goes into effect on April 2, 2020, responds to the novel coronavirus of 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak by providing paid sick leave and family leave to employees. The Act mandates government entities and employers with fewer than 500 workers, subject to certain exceptions and exemptions, to provide 80 hours of paid sick leave to all covered employees and up to 10 weeks of paid family leave for certain employees affected by COVID-19 who have worked at the…

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  • March 19, 2020

Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Where it Stands Today

In this period of rapid change, few things are moving faster than the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”). This federal legislation creates new sick leave benefits and temporarily expands the scope of the Family and Medical Leave Act to assist certain employees and their families confronting challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic. The FFCRA was passed by the House on March 14, amended by the House over the weekend, and then passed by the Senate yesterday evening. The President wasted no time and quickly signed it into law. With his signature, the legal obligations of many employers changed. Those…

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  • March 13, 2020

Legal Impact of Coronavirus on the Workplace

As the impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread across the U.S., employers are coming to grips with its effects on the workplace. The uncharted territory of the pandemic presents new challenges for employers. Health and safety are of foremost concern. When addressing those concerns, employers should remain conscious of their duties under various workplace laws. On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the COVID-19 virus had reached pandemic levels. Why is this terminology important? Classification of the virus as a pandemic provides objective evidence from health authorities that the virus is at a level…

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  • March 10, 2020

Don’t Forget About Federal Court: Considerations in analyzing removal under diversity jurisdiction

In defending complex civil matters, one important consideration is the question of whether the matter must stay in the state court in which plaintiff filed, or, is there a basis for removal to federal court.  Trying a matter in federal court could present a host of benefits.  They include a wider and deeper jury pool, avoiding feeling as if the matter is being tried on plaintiff’s “home turf,” and a more predictable application of procedural and substantive rules, authorities, customs, and practices.   The most common basis for seeking removal to federal court is where there is diversity of citizenship…

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