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  • May 10, 2018

Competing Life Insurance Claims Between the Spouses in a First and Second Marriage

Family law can not only put a husband and wife in adversarial litigation; but also create competing claims between the spouses in a first and second marriage.  Consider the following situation faced by the Ferguson, Schetelich & Ballew Family Law Practice group. A divorced husband was obligated by the Court’s judgment to provide life insurance for the benefit of his divorced wife.  Over time, the husband remarried. The new couple made reciprocal Wills benefiting one another, and each changed their life insurance beneficiary to name the other.  When the husband unexpectedly died, both the first and second spouse make claim…

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  • April 30, 2018

Workplace Religious Accommodations and Islamic Prayer

Few issues are more sensitive for employers than accommodating employees’ religious practices and observances. In recent years, Muslim employees and their employers have struggled with how to handle the religious requirement to perform obligatory prayers while at work. Muslims are required by their faith to observe five daily prayers during certain intervals. The performance of the prayer requires preparation in the form of a ritual cleansing, followed by the actual prayer which consists of a series of standing, bowing, and prostrating actions accompanied by recitation of chapters from the Quran. The five daily prayers occur at dawn, mid-day, mid-afternoon, sunset,…

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  • April 3, 2018

Donor Advised Funds Top Planning Tools Under New Tax Law

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) went into effect on January 1, 2018. Economists argue over the winners and the losers, but one obvious loser was charitable donations and the charities that depend on them. The new tax law nearly doubles the standard deduction in 2018 — to $12,000 for singles and $24,000 for joint filers younger than age 65 — while capping or eliminating other deductions. This means it will no longer make sense for as many taxpayers to itemize deductions. In 2017, 30% of taxpayers itemized; under the new tax law that is expected to drop to…

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  • March 13, 2018

Church Law Practice Group Reflects on the Life of Rev. Billy Graham

The following article was written by Firm Principal Thomas Schetelich and appeared in the monthly publication CPN-OnPoint. Mr. Schetelich and his practice group are pleased to represent churches, ministries, and faith-based organizations throughout the region.  IN MEMORY OF BILLY GRAHAM I met Billy Graham on July 9, 2006.  He was in Baltimore for the Metro-Maryland Festival, featuring his son Franklin as the primary speaker.  I was the Chair of the Festival’s Executive Committee, and had been leading the team working on this event for the past three years.  The general assumption was that Billy Graham had ended his public speaking career, and…

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  • February 12, 2018

Firm News: Schetelich Receives “Top 100 Attorneys” Award, and More

Ferguson, Schetelich & Ballew is pleased to congratulate Firm Principal Thomas Schetelich for being recognized as one of Maryland’s Top 100 Attorneys based on lifetime legal achievement. The award is based on peer nomination and independent research focusing on professional experience, significant case results, client satisfaction, and public service. Mr. Schetelich was honored for his work in business law and business litigation. Earlier in the month, Mr. Schetelich, along with Firm Principal Jocelyn Szymanowski, were invited by the Child Evangelism Fellowship to present at their annual training for staff and volunteers. Mr. Schetelich and Ms. Szymanowski discussed the recent cases…

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  • January 31, 2018

Paid Leave Is Now Maryland Law

Earlier this month, the Maryland Senate voted to override Governor Hogan’s veto of the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act. As a result, that legislation is poised to take effect on February 11, 2018. The Act’s most notable provision requires that employers with 15 or more employees provide full time employees at least 5 days of paid leave per year. For employers with fewer than 15 employees, the leave can be unpaid.  Employees who regularly work 12 hours or more per week are also to receive 1 hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked. Paid leave may be used…

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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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  • January 4, 2018

Tolerance is Most Meaningful When it’s Mutual- Supreme Court Arguments in Masterpiece Cakeshop

The developing law concerning religious freedom and same sex marriage was argued before the United States Supreme Court on December 5, 2017 in the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission.  The case concerns Jack Phillips, a Colorado baker and the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, which he opened in 1993.  In 2012, David Mullins and Charlie Craig, two gay men intending to get married, came into his bakery and asked him to design a cake for their wedding.  Mr. Phillips declined, based on his Christian faith and his religious conviction that marriage was between a man and…

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  • November 28, 2017

Avoiding Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Recent news stories have shed a brighter light on the very real problem of sexual harassment in the workplace.  Failing to properly address sexual harassment creates an unsafe workplace and exposes the employer to substantial liability. There is nothing new about this issue. Liability under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act has existed for more than thirty years.  These recent headlines simply speak to the unfortunate reality that too many workplaces fail to properly address the problem.  It is imperative that employers acquire the tools needed to protect their employees and themselves.      Sexual harassment encompasses a wide…

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  • October 3, 2017

Can Parties to a Maryland Contract Shorten the Limitations Period? It Depends…

The short answer to the question of whether parties to a contract can legally shorten the statute of limitations is yes.  However, three factors must be met before a shortened statute of limitations can be enforced: 1) no controlling statute exists to the contrary; 2) the provision is not the result of fraud, duress, or misrepresentation; and 3) the provision is reasonable.   In its recent opinion, Richard and Daphne Ceccone v. Carroll Home Service, LLC, filed July 28, 2017, the Court of Appeals upheld the Court of Special Appeals' decision in College of Notre Dame of Maryland, Inc. v.…

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