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  • January 13, 2016

The Maryland Prudent Investor Rule

The Prudent Investor Rule was codified in Maryland in 1994, by §15-114 of the Estates & Trusts Article. The statute allows a fiduciary to utilize Modern Portfolio Theory in making investment elections for a trust, an estate or other beneficiary investments. Modern Portfolio Theory frees a trustee from rigid and outdated trust investment practices, and allows use of the full range of modern investment tools in selecting and managing portfolios for trust beneficiaries. The Prudent Investor Rule, however, only applies to a fiduciary that is a trust company or an investment advisor, or an individual trustee who makes a valid…

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  • December 28, 2015

Election Year Rules for Churches and Non-Profits

2016 is a national election year, in which Americans will choose their political leaders at every level of elected government.  Churches and non-profit organizations have much to say on the issues being debated and have a First Amendment right to have their views heard.  The Internal Revenue Code has prohibitions against campaign activity for or against political candidates.  This article reviews the state of the law and the current IRS practices. As a first matter, Churches and non-profits have an absolute First Amendment right to speak out on political issues and for or against candidates, however and wherever they choose,…

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  • November 16, 2015

Correcting Retirement Plan Errors: 2015 IRS Guidance Favors Employers

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has modified the Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System (EPCRS), which is the IRS correction program for retirement plans. In general, EPCRS allows retirement plan sponsors to correct plan mistakes and continue to provide retirement benefits on a tax-favored basis. It includes self-correction without IRS involvement, voluntary correction with IRS approval, and correction during audit under a closing agreement. The recent modifications to EPCRS are found in Revenue Procedure 2015-27 and Revenue Procedure 2015-8. They are a welcomed relief to employers who have discovered and need to correct past errors. Revenue Procedure 2015-27: Rev. Proc 2015-27…

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  • October 30, 2015

When is Evidence of Liability Insurance Admissible Under Maryland Law?

It is well established under Maryland law that, typically, evidence of liability insurance is not admissible to determine whether a party is negligent. Such evidence is highly prejudicial and irrelevant to the issue of a defendant’s liability.  See Maryland Rule 5-411 and Accord Morris v. Weddington, 320 Md. 674 (1990).  However, a 2015, opinion from the Maryland Court of Special Appeals provides an interesting analysis and holding regarding the use of liability insurance evidence where the issue in question is an employer’s negligent hiring of an allegedly negligent employee, potentially opening the door for admissibility of liability insurance under certain…

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  • August 24, 2015

Risk Management in the Sports & Entertainment Industry

In the Sports & Entertainment industry, proper risk management prior to, during, and after each event is critical to success.  As an event organizer, you want your patrons to enjoy themselves and you want them to do so safely, so you must employ a good plan, skillful execution, and thorough post-event analysis.  Event management cannot be static.  It must be fluid and responsive.  Constantly improving and modifying your risk management practices can help prevent lawsuits or prepare you whenever one is filed.  These ten tips are intended to help you think about ways in which your invitees may get injured,…

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  • July 22, 2015

Termination of Hotel Management Agreements Under Maryland Law

During the course of negotiating an agreement between the owner of a hotel and a hotel operator, franchisor, or manager, one of the principal points of negotiation is the agreement’s term.  Over the course of the last few decades, however, numerous cases have held that, without regard to the term set forth in the agreement, a hotel owner always maintains the right to terminate a management agreement, even in the absence of a breach of the agreement by the manager.  These cases, however, may not be applicable in Maryland, which has a unique statute that provides hotel managers and operators…

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  • July 14, 2015

Robert L. Ferguson, Jr. and Ann D. Ware Win Case of First Impression on Construction Insurance Coverage

In March, we posted an article reporting that Robert L. Ferguson, Jr. had argued a question of first impression before the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.  At issue was a standard ISO insurance endorsement used extensively by contractors and subcontractors that defines when the subcontractor’s insurer must provide a defense to a general contractor as an additional insured. Although this ISO endorsement (CG-20-10-07-04) was in wide use, Maryland case law had never determined the question of whether an insurer is required to defend the additional insured when the Complaint, upon which a defense and indemnity is…

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  • July 6, 2015

What Impact Will the Supreme Court Decision on Same Sex Marriage have on Maryland Churches?

On June 26, 2015 the United States Supreme Court ended the national debate over same sex marriage in its 5 – 4 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges. The majority opinion authored by Justice Anthony Kennedy, found that states which prohibit marriage to same sex couples deprive them of their liberty, contrary to the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. The Court ordered that all States recognize and sanction marriages between same sex couples “on the same terms and conditions as marriages between persons of the opposite sex.” The case has generated legal, moral, and religious controversy. Many Maryland churches…

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  • June 10, 2015

U.S. Supreme Court Declares Maryland Income Tax Provision Unconstitutional

On May 18, 2015, the United States Supreme Court declared a provision of Maryland’s State Income Tax unconstitutional as discriminatory against interstate commerce, and thereby in violation of Article I, Section 8 of the United States Constitution. The case is Comptroller v. Wynne. The specific and technical issue is that Maryland’s personal income tax has (as all Maryland taxpayers know) both a State and a County tax. Maryland taxes the personal income of its residents, regardless of whether that income is earned in Maryland or in other states. The Maryland tax code then grants a credit for taxes paid to other states,…

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  • May 20, 2015

How to Use Christian Mediation

Disputes within churches, or between ministries, can often give rise to legal claims. In litigation, courts will decline to resolve matters of religious doctrine, but try to apply “neutral principles of law” to resolve disputes. But many Christians believe that such disputes should not or cannot be resolved in legal courts, often quoting the verses at I Corinthians 6: 1 – 9 not to even file such an action. The mandate of that Scripture is that such matters should be resolved within the Church. To this end, many churches have dispute resolution ministries. Also, Peacemaker Ministries ( provides a formal…

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