Dozens of consumer protection bills were introduced in this year's session of the General Assembly. Many died without a final vote; but, a few made it into law. These are the bills that will become law:
Lawsuits involving texting and driving are starting to make their way through the courts. One recent set of cases involved a multi-vehicle accident that, some say, stemmed from a commercial driver being distracted by the texting system in his vehicle.
Sometimes, even debt collectors claim mistakes were made. In a recent court case, a Baltimore-based debt collector successfully used the "bona fide error" defense when it was sued for trying to collect a debt from a man who said he did not owe the money. The case arose from the efforts of Thieblot Ryan P.A., a Baltimore law firm, to collect a debt allegedly owed to Bank of America by Alexander Young in connection with his allegedly overdrawn checking account.
While Maryland's top court made several important rulings on fraud and punitive damages in Exxon Mobil Corporation v. Albright and others, the Court of Appeals also made a significant ruling on "fear" or "emotional distress" damages. The question on the issue of emotional distress for the Jacksonville homeowners and businesses was whether they could be awarded damages for their fear that they would develop cancer because of the gasoline leak.
Following the presentation of evidence on the issue of punitive damages, a Baltimore, County jury returned an award for punitive damages totaling $1,045,550,000 in Exxon Mobil Corporation v. Albright, et al. and its companion case, Exxon Mobil Corporation v. Ford, et al. The award was made in lawsuits brought by Jacksonville, Maryland homeowners and businesses after their wells were contaminated by a gasoline leak from a nearby Exxon gasoline station. But, Maryland's top court threw out the entire award, finding that the underlying legal rationale for the huge award was lacking. "Because we reverse the verdicts as to each of the alleged instances of fraud submitted to the jury, the award to [the plaintiffs] of punitive damages must be reversed as well," the Court of Appeals wrote.
There are several bills dealing with workers' compensation matters in the General Assembly this year. A bill that would allow commission decisions to be emailed and a bill that would expand punishment for employers who retaliate against workers who file workers' compensation claims are making the rounds in Annapolis.
Homeowners facing foreclosure often seek a mortgage modification, while the popular loan restructuring programs can be useful, there can also be difficulties. Maryland's federal trial court recently dismissed the lawsuit brought by a couple that sued their bank after their attempt to modify their mortgage fell through.
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