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  • October 23, 2018

New Maryland Statute Strengthens Condo Associations Against Owners

Owners who do not pay their condo assessments are the bane of condominium associations.  The association can bring a lawsuit or establish a lien on the unit, but that might be of little value against an owner who holds the unit in an LLC and has little equity in the unit because of a substantial mortgage. One tool that condo associations have turned to is to deny the owner’s common element privileges.  Denying use of the pool or common element parking creates an incentive to keep condo assessments paid. In 2017, the Maryland Court of Appeals struck down a condominium…

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  • October 8, 2018

General Contractor Liability for Unpaid Wages

The Maryland General Assembly has passed a new statute that marks a dramatic departure from existing wage and hour requirements for general contractors.  The new statute, which took effect on October 1, 2018, makes general contractors responsible for the failure of their subcontractors to pay their employees the wages they are owed.  The statute is modeled after a recent District of Columbia law, and will significantly alter the long established rules among general contractors, subcontractors, and their employees. The Maryland wage and hour and wage payment laws are designed to ensure that employees are fully and timely paid.  The laws…

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  • August 2, 2018

Submit to an Examination Under Oath or Lose Coverage

  On June 28th, 2018, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals issued an opinion in Dolan v. Kemper Independence Insurance Company, 218 WL 3199548 (Sept. Term, 2017) in which the appellate court affirmed the circuit court’s judgment in favor of the insurer against an insured who refused to submit to an examination under oath (EUO).   Most insurance policies, including the one at issue, contain policy conditions that require a person seeking coverage to cooperate with the insurer in the investigation, settlement, or defense of any claim or suit. These conditions usually require a person seeking coverage to submit to…

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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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  • June 8, 2018

Potential Broad Implications from the Supreme Court’s “Narrow Ruling” in Masterpiece Cakeshop

Few decisions from the United States Supreme Court this term were as anxiously anticipated as that in Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission.  Everyone anticipated a close decision where the Court would balance religious liberty against discrimination based on sexual orientation.  The decision announced on June 4, 2018 was not close and it did not decide that issue.  Instead, it did something much more important. 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,…

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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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