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  • April 27, 2015

Time for a Uniform Procedure for Minor Settlements in Maryland

In Maryland, if a minor is injured, a claim is presented on behalf of the minor by the minor’s parents or guardians.  Frequently, these claims are resolved before suit is even filed.  Since minors cannot themselves execute binding releases, the defendants and sometimes even the parents or guardians require a judicial determination that the settlement is a final resolution of the minor’s claim so that the child cannot reassert the claim upon attaining the age of majority.  Unfortunately, there is no uniform procedure or rule in Maryland to guide the parties or the courts in this regard.  Sometimes, the parties…

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  • March 13, 2015

Robert L. Ferguson, Jr. Argues Case of First Impression on Construction Insurance Coverage

Robert L. Ferguson, Jr. recently argued before the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, regarding a question of a Subcontractor’s insurance company’s duty to defend a General Contractor when the construction failure was the fault of its subcontractor. At issue was whether the subcontractor’s insurance policy that extended coverage to the contractor for the subcontractor’s acts or omissions, would provide a defense if the subcontractor itself had not been sued, and the Complaint did not expressly identify the subcontractor as responsible. The particular language in the insurance endorsement has never before been addressed under Maryland law. It…

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  • February 16, 2015

Maryland and DC Employers Required to “Think Outside the Box” or Rather Ban it Altogether

Many people like to use the cliché “think outside the box.”  In most instances the phrase is used to encourage someone to be creative and look for ideas outside of what is common or the norm.  New laws in three localities in Maryland and in the District of Columbia are not simply encouraging employers to think outside the box, but requiring them to “Ban the Box” entirely.  The penalties for failure to do so are significant. These laws have been termed “Ban the Box” legislation because, in addition to other provisions, the new laws ban employers from having a box…

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  • January 16, 2015

An IRS Tax Audit of Your Business – The Basics

A tax audit is an accounting procedure where the IRS examines your business financial records to make sure you filed your tax return accurately.  If you receive an IRS audit notice, here are the basic steps you can take to assist in resolving the situation. 1. Determine Why Your Return Was Selected For An Audit. It is the IRS’s obligation to inform you as to why your return was selected.  However, you must be diligent in making the inquiry.  Taxes may be audited for several reasons, including: Specific activity on your return, such as cash wages, 1099 and W-2 forms that…

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  • December 10, 2014

Must a Public University Provide Closed Captioning for Hearing-Impaired Spectators Attending Live Athletic Events?

Dr. Joseph Innes, Daniel Rinas, and Sean Markel (“Plaintiffs”) filed a lawsuit against the University of Maryland claiming that the university does not provide an equal opportunity to enjoy, benefit from, or participate in watching athletic events equivalent to that of individuals without hearing disabilities. The Plaintiffs, all of whom have a hearing disability, contend that the university excludes them from participating as spectators (and as fans) of live sporting events by failing to reasonably accommodate their disability. The Plaintiffs brought this action under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (the “ADA”), and the Rehabilitation Act.…

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  • December 5, 2014

Employee Courtesy and Other Workplace Conduct Standards: Why The NLRB Says They May Violate Federal Law

Most employers think (incorrectly) that they can decide what conduct will be deemed appropriate in their workplace.  What they don’t appreciate is that the federal government is looking over their shoulder and, increasingly, ruling that many common sense standards for workplace behavior violate federal law. Take this quick quiz. Is it permissible to prohibit an employee from expressing a “discourteous or inappropriate attitude” towards customers, co-workers, or the public?  Can you discipline an employee for making false or derogatory comments about coworkers and management?  Can you tell employees that when they are in the community they should represent your business…

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  • November 18, 2014

Minister’s Housing Allowance Survives Challenge

In a big win for churches and other religious organizations, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has reversed a District Court decision which had declared the Minister’s Housing Allowance to be unconstitutional. The decision (issued on November 13, 2014) preserves the annual $700 million tax break given to religious organizations and their ministers. The case is Freedom from Religion Foundation, Inc. v. Lew, which arose on appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin. At issue is Section 107(2) of the Internal Revenue Code, which states that for a “minister of…

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  • November 11, 2014

Imposing a Lien Processing Fee May Lead to a Violation of the Maryland Consumer Protection Act

On October 7, 2014, the Court of Special Appeals issued its opinion in Allstate Lien & Recovery Corp. v. Stansbury that a processing fee may not be part of a garageman’s lien and, additionally, that the charging of the processing fee violated the Maryland Consumer Debt Collection Act. The scenario in Stansbury is fairly ordinary: a man brought his automobile to the repair shop, signed off on the repairs, and then was unable to pay his bill. The repair shop filed a lien on the automobile in order to satisfy the customer’s debt. A lien is attached to the automobile,…

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  • November 4, 2014

Anti-Retaliation Protections Under the Affordable Care Act

Employers are typically familiar with prohibitions against retaliating against their employees for engaging in protected activity under a statute.  Employers, however, may be unaware of additional anti-retaliation provisions that have been established under the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”). One of the lesser known provisions of the ACA is its amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) to protect employees who receive certain benefits under the ACA or who report violations related to their employer’s failure to meet certain requirements of the ACA.  Specifically, Section 158 of the ACA, which creates Section 18C of the FLSA, prohibits employers from discharging,…

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  • October 28, 2014

Evidence of Immigration Status in a Personal Injury Case

In the case of Ayala v. Lee, 215 Md. App. 457, 81 A.3d 584 (2013), the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland held that evidence of a plaintiff’s status as an undocumented immigrant can be admissible in a personal injury action if the evidence is relevant and not prejudicial.  This lawsuit arose out of a motor vehicle accident in which Rigoberto E. Domingos Ayala and Jose R. Rodas Santacruz sustained severe injuries while they were working for their employer Ebb Tide Tents and Party Rentals.  Ayala, Santacruz, and Ayala’s wife filed a lawsuit against Robert F. Lee, the driver of…

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