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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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  • February 17, 2020

Thomas Schetelich – Featured Presenter at the Christian Camp Conference Association, Mid-Atlantic Program

Thomas Schetelich was a featured presenter at the Christian Camp Conference Association, Mid-Atlantic Program.  Mr. Schetelich spoke to Camp and Conference Center directors and leaders concerning current issues of religious liberty and the direction of the United States Supreme Court. Mr. Schetelich, who is himself a member of the United States Supreme Court Bar, reviewed the leading cases of the past five years, showing how the Supreme Court has been expanding religious liberty by expanding the definition of the “exercise” of religion.  He also referenced cases recently decided at the Circuit Court level for which review is being sought from…

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  • January 8, 2020

Four FSB Attorneys Named in Baltimore Magazine for 2020

Ferguson, Schetelich & Ballew, P.A., is proud to announce that four attorneys at the firm have recently been recognized for excellence in practice by being selected as Super Lawyers or Rising Stars for 2020. Specifically, Craig F. Ballew, Employment and Labor, and Robert L. Ferguson, Jr., Civil Litigation: Defense, made the 2020 list of Maryland Super Lawyers. Furthermore, Jacob L. White, Civil Litigation: Defense, and Daniel S. Baurer, Personal Injury General: Plaintiff, were named to the Maryland Rising Stars list. Mr. Ballew was previously named a Super Lawyer from 2008 through 2009, and again from 2012 through 2019. Mr. Ferguson…

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  • December 18, 2019

Secure Act Promises Major Changes in Retirement Planning

Substantial changes in retirement laws appear headed for passage and enactment into law by 2020. The SECURE Act (“Setting Every Community Up For Retirement Enhancement”) passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 417 – 3 and similar legislation is now before the Senate. President Trump has expressed his support for what would be the first major change in retirement laws since 2006. The bill is a series to strong incentives to encourage savings towards retirements, together with the elimination of so-called Stretch IRAs that tie up wealth for generations. Essentially, the SECURE Act, breaks down into five (5)…

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  • November 13, 2019

Robert Ferguson, Timothy Dygert Argue Construction Case of First Impression in Maryland Court of Appeals

On November 4, 2019, Robert Ferguson and Timothy Dygert argued a construction case of first impression before the Court of Appeals of Maryland.  The case concerns a critical question of insurance and joint liability that is being watched by contractors, architects, and insurers in the construction industry. The case is Gables Construction, Inc. v. Red Coats, Inc. and concerns a fire in a building under construction that occurred in 2014, and which caused $17.6 million in property damage. Gables Construction (represented by Ferguson, Schetelich & Ballew) was the general contractor.  The construction contract had standard clauses by which the property…

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  • October 15, 2019

Charitable Giving Falling Due to New Tax Law

In 2017, the Tax Cut and Jobs Act gave charities great concern that donations would be falling.  This is because the standard deduction was doubled (to $24,000 for married couples filing jointly) and other deductions (such as State taxes and mortgage interest) were capped.  Fewer people would itemize deductions on their 2018 tax returns, and without a tax benefit to their charitable contribution, they would give less.  New data shows that those fears were well-founded. In 2018, a year of record employment and sustained economic growth, the number of taxpayers who itemized dropped from 46 million to 19 million.  Individual…

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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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  • September 30, 2019

Flying High? Should Airlines fear judicial efforts to check their autonomy?

Airline travel is a distinctive means of transport, with the ability to move great distances, over varied terrain, in relatively short periods of time.  These characteristics which have made airplane travel atypical amongst transportation options, have also made it unique in the law. Specifically, under the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 (“ADA”) federal authority preempts State authority, and the individual States are prohibited from regulating matters having a connection with or reference to airline rates, routes, or services.  See, for example, Morales v. Trans World Airlines, Inc., 504 U.S. 374 (1992). However, the airlines’ exemption from State law is not…

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  • September 3, 2019

New Maryland Employment Law Will Expand Employer Liablity for Workplace Harrassment.

Maryland’s new employee harassment law (HB 679) is set to become effective October 1, 2019.  The law dramatically expands the scope of actions that can be brought against employers, and (perhaps most importantly) is much broader than protections now available under Federal law. The new Maryland law covers harassment against workers based on race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, sex, age, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.  It does not have a specific definition of “harassment,” but rather maintains the “judicially determined meaning” – which involves unwelcome behavior, comments, or actions that create a hostile or offensive working…

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