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  • August 8, 2016

New Maryland Case Allows Court to Distribute Assets of Charitable Corporation

A new decision reported by the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland has given a broad definition to what is a “charitable corporation” and also an expansive reading to the power of a court to transfer the assets of a charitable corporation that is not functioning. The case is Sydnor v. Hathaway decided on July 27, 2016.  The dispute was between the Union Baptist Church in Baltimore and a charitable corporation that it created, known as the Union Baptist Development Corporation.  The Development Corporation had been formed by the Church in 1981 to hold title to property that the Church…

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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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  • May 5, 2016

Robert Ferguson Honored as a “Leader in Law”

On May 5, 2016, The Daily Record presented Ferguson, Schetelich & Ballew’s President, Robert L. Ferguson, Jr. with its “Leadership in Law” award at a banquet in Annapolis. The award honors “active mentors, fostering strong, future generations of professional and community leaders.” Recognizing Mr. Ferguson’s significant and ongoing commitment to the Maryland legal community, as well as a number of other honorees, the Daily Record’s Suzanne Fischer-Huettner said in a press release that honorees “work tirelessly to uphold high legal standards and improve communities throughout Maryland.” The Leadership in Law Award required significant support from the legal community. In support…

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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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  • March 18, 2016

Care Required in Raising Affirmative Defenses

“Cardinal Law, in Lawsuit, Faults Child and Parents in Abuse Case.”  That was the headline of a Fox News Article on April 29, 2002.  The headline was driven by nothing more than a boilerplate affirmative defense in an answer filed on behalf of Cardinal Bernard Francis Law and the Archdiocese of Boston in a lawsuit brought by a person alleging that he was abused as a child by a priest.  The lawyers who filed the answer alleged that the “negligence of the plaintiffs contributed to cause the injury or the damage” and that any damages assessed against Cardinal Law “should…

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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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