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Court Rules that Metro Can’t Be Sued for “Slip and Falls”

Published on Feb 22, 2013 at 1:18 pm in General Blogs.

In a decision that means there is no legal recovery for slips and falls at the area’s Metro stations, the Maryland Court of Appeals has held that the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) is entitled to immunity from tort claims – lawsuits — arising out of its maintenance decisions. The court’s ruling stemmed from slip and falls on wet floors suffered by two women while using the popular Metro subway transportation system.

Veronica Tinsley and Kim Hodge separately filed negligence actions in the Circuit Court for Prince George’s County after they were both injured when using the subway. Tinsley said in her lawsuit that she was severely injured after slipping and falling on a floor that was wet because it was recently cleaned. Hodge said she suffered injuries when she slipped and fell on a floor that was wet because other passengers had tracked snow into the station.

Both women achieved five-figure money damage verdicts from their juries. However, the same day the jury ruled for Hodge, the Court of Special Appeals ruled for WMATA in the appeal of Tinsley’s lawsuit. The intermediate appellate court said Tinsley’s lawsuit was barred by sovereign immunity. Because of the ruling by the appellate court, WMATA attorneys were able to get the favorable award for Hodge set aside. When the two cases came before the state’s top court, Maryland’s Court of Appeals agreed with the intermediate appellate court.

Notice To Tenant To Vacate Foreclosed Property Was Confusing and Premature

Published on Feb 12, 2013 at 1:53 pm in General Blogs.

When foreclosed properties are purchased, many buyers are unaware that tenants have rights under both state and federal law. In a recent court case, Maryland’s Court of Appeals scolded a lender for acting too soon to get rid of a tenant.

Under the federal Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act (PTFA), a purchaser of a foreclosed residential property must provide advance notice to a tenant if the tenant will be required to vacate the residence. The new owner must provide tenants with a notice that advises the tenant of the right to occupy the residence for the remainder of the lease or, if there is no lease or the lease is terminable at will under state law, the tenant has the right to occupy the property for 90 days. However, the foreclosure must involve a federally-insured mortgage, the foreclosure must take place after the enactment of the PTFA and the tenant must qualify as a “bona fide tenant.”

Maryland Man Who Deposited Money into Account He Didn’t Own Can’t Recover Funds in Credit Card Dispute

Published on Dec 18, 2012 at 1:11 pm in General Blogs.

Maryland’s federal trial court recently decided a collection case with a slight twist – a man deposited money into an account that wasn’t his and sued to recover when the funds were used to offset a past due debt on a credit card associated with the account.

Kevin C. Betskoff, Sr., filed a lawsuit in the Carroll County Circuit Court against the Bank of America, alleging that it violated the Maryland Consumer Debt Collection Act, the Maryland Consumer Protection Act, the Truth in Lending Act and committed trover and conversion and intentional infliction of emotional distress when it took the $1064 he deposited in an account owned by Iona Investment Group LLC. He had received permission to use the account from L. Iona Canaday, the company’s resident agent.

When Betskoff attempted to retrieve the money several days later, he was notified that the bank had offset all of his funds to pay arrears on an unsecured credit card associated with the account. Betskoff contacted the bank and told it that he did not possess a credit card with the account and was not responsible for associated debt. He asked the bank to return the funds. The bank refused

Court of Appeals: Foreclosure Notices Must Identify All Secured Parties

Published on Dec 10, 2012 at 1:13 pm in General Blogs.

In a ruling that can only be described as common sense, the state’s top court recently ruled that a foreclosure notice must identify all the secured parties; however, there are circumstances when the failure to identify a secured party is not fatal to a foreclosure action.

In Camille C. Shepherd v. John S. Burson, et al., the Court of Appeals also said that a failure to identify all secured parties in a foreclosure notice does not require dismissal of the foreclosure when the notice identifies one of the secured parties, the notice provides other legally-required required information that allows the borrow to pursue a loan modification, the identity of the other secured parties is disclosed to the borrower well in advance of the foreclosure sale and the borrower does not move to dismiss the foreclosure proceeding on the basis of a defective notice for more than a year after such disclosure.

The court’s ruling stemmed from a lender’s attempt to foreclose on a Greenbelt, Md. home. Camille Shepherd obtained a $416,900 loan from IndyMac in 2007 secured by a deed of trust on the home. She defaulted on the loan in 2008 after having obtained a loan modification that lowered the interest rate and, as a result, lowered her monthly payment. IndyMac transferred its assets to OneWest Bank FSB in 2009 after IndyMac went under in 2007.

Appeals Court Rules that Non-Economic Damage Caps Apply Separately to Wrongful Death and Survival Actions

Published on Dec 10, 2012 at 1:12 pm in General Blogs.

The cap on non-economic damages in non-medical malpractice cases applies separately to jury awards in survival and in wrongful death actions, the Court of Special Appeals has held.

Caps on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases have been a point of controversy as Republicans have wanted to rollback jury awards by capping damages, while many attorneys have argued – and some courts have held — that the caps strip the jury of much of their function. Non-economic damages commonly refer to pain and suffering, but they also include losses such as emotional distress and loss of enjoyment of life.

The principal issue in Wayne H. Goss, et al. v. The Estate of Bertha Jennings, et al. was whether the cap on non-economic damages cap imposed by Maryland law applies separately or collectively to damages awarded in two separate types of legal action — wrongful death and survival — that often stem from the same occurrence.

Maryland Courts Rule on Qualified Expert Certificate Questions

Published on Nov 27, 2012 at 1:05 pm in General Blogs.

One of the threshold requirements for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit is that a “Certificate of Qualified Expert” must be filed with Maryland Health Care Alternative Dispute Resolution Office (HCADRO), an administrative agency that promotes arbitration of medical claims. The certificate must state that the injury was caused by a departure from the standard of care and that this departure caused the alleged injury. The certificate must be filed within 90 days after the filing of the complaint.

The lawsuit will be dismissed if the certificate is not filed on time, unless an extension has been granted. Extensions are granted by the HCADRO director only under a showing of “good cause.”

Maryland’s federal trial court and the state’s Court of Special Appeals recently issued two rulings dealing with different questions on certificates.

Doctor’s Testimony Ruled Not Scientifically Valid in Workers’ Compensation Lawsuit Involving Mold

Published on Nov 3, 2012 at 1:07 pm in Workers Compensation.

One of the scourges of the modern-day world is mold and the impact of exposure upon our health. In a recent court case, Maryland’s Court of Special Appeals decided that a doctor’s opinion that exposure to mold led to a raft of problems for workers in a water-damaged building was not scientifically valid under the standard presently used in the Maryland court system.

The lawsuit stemmed from complaints by several employees of the Baltimore Washington Conference of the United Methodist Church (BWCUMC) of an odor emanating from the walls. A maintenance crew investigated and discovered mold. As a result, several workers filed claims against BWCUMC and its insurer, Montgomery Mutual Insurance Company with the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission. The workers said they suffered from “sick building syndrome” as a result of the exposure. While some of the workers’ claims were disallowed, several were awarded partial compensation.

Alleged Loan Modification Scamsters Pressed by Prosecutors

Published on Oct 17, 2012 at 12:42 pm in General Blogs.

As the economy continues to remain weak, loan modification scams continue to make the news. A Maryland man has been charged with conducting a loan modification scheme with a particularly cruel twist, while the government’s new consumer finance watchdog has made its first move into enforcement of mortgage-related fraud.

An Owings Mills, Md. man has pleaded guilty to mortgage fraud after prosecutors alleged he took money from at least 48 homeowners to help them get loan modifications, then stole the monthly payments they thought were going to their lenders, according to a story in the Baltimore Sun.

 

Rodney Getlan’s scheme was worse than the usual method of taking a big upfront fee and then doing little or nothing to help, according to the newspaper account.

Appellate Court Rejects Legal Defense That Would Defeat Medical Malpractice Claims

Published on Sep 9, 2012 at 12:41 pm in General Blogs.

If one medical malpractice defense attorney had had his way,merely explaining the complications that can accompany a medical procedurewould be enough to defeat a medical malpractice claim. But, in H. Jeffrey Schwarz, et al v. Arvia Johnson, Maryland ‘s Court of Special Appeals sided with the trialcourt in soundly rejecting such a defense.

A Baltimore City jury found that Dr. H. Jeffrey Schwartz’s negligence caused Arvia Johnson’s injuries and awarded Johnson medical expenses of $23,791.19 and non-economic damages of $650,000.

Employer Not Responsible for Fatigued Worker’s Auto Accident, Court Says

Published on Sep 9, 2012 at 12:39 pm in General Blogs.

Does an employer bear responsibility for an auto accident that occurred after a worker’s 22-hour work shift? In a recently decided case, all three Maryland courts came down in favor of the employer.

In Barclay et ux v. Briscoe, et al, personal representative of the estate of Christopher Richardson v. Ports America Baltimore, Inc., Maryland’s top court ruled that an employer can not be held liable for the off-duty motor accident stemming from on-the-job fatigue committed by an employee in his or her personal vehicle.

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