Articles Posted in Maryland Court of Appeals

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Alternative Medicine Maryland, LLC (AMM) sued the Natalie M. LaPrade Medical Cannabis Commission, its members, and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene after AMM applied for, but did not receive, pre-approval for a medical cannabis grower license. AMM sought a declaratory judgment and preliminary and permanent injunctive relief, arguing that the Commission failed to follow applicable law with respect to the requirement to consider racial and ethnic diversity of potential medical cannabis grower licensees and requested that the Commission be required to reconnect the pre-approval process. Relevant to this appeal, the circuit court denied a motion to intervene filed by medical cannabis growers that had received pre-approvals for medical cannabis grower licenses, a coalition and trade association that advocate for the use of medical cannabis, and patients who would potentially receive medical cannabis as treatment for illnesses. The Supreme Court held (1) the growers were entitled to intervention as of right and permissive intervention; but (2) the circuit court did not err in denying intervention as of right or permissive intervention as to the patients and the trade association petitioners. View "Doe v. Alternative Medicine Maryland, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals reversed the suppression of certain evidence discovered upon detectives’ use of a cell site simulator - or an undercover cell tower - concluding that whether use of a cell site simulator is a search for purposes of the Fourth Amendment or whether a court order authorizing its use fell short of a search warrant, the detectives here acted in objectively reasonable good faith. The circuit court suppressed the evidence on the ground that the use of the cell site simulator to locate the phone was a search for purposes of the Fourth Amendment and that the court order authorizing them to use a “cellular tracking device” to locate the victim’s phone did not function as a search warrant. In reversing, the Court of Appeals held that, based on existing case law, it was objectively reasonable for detectives to believe that their use of a cell site simulator pursuant to the court order was permissible under the Fourth Amendment, and therefore, and evidence obtained as a result of the detectives’ use of the cell site simulator should not be suppressed because of use of that device. View "State v. Copes" on Justia Law

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Christian was born in 1990. Until October 1992, he resided on Spaulding Avenue in Baltimore. Christian and his mother then moved to Denmore. In September 1993, they moved back to Spaulding and lived there until September 1997. In 1991, Christian's blood test exhibited an elevated free erythrocyte protoporphyrin level. From 1992-1993, Christian displayed elevated blood lead levels five times. In 2011, Christian sued Levitas, the owner of Spaulding, alleging negligence and violations of the Maryland Consumer Protection Act. Arc Environmental tested Spaulding for lead; 31 interior surfaces and five exterior surfaces tested positive. Christian designated Howard Klein, M.D., a pediatrician with experience treating lead-poisoned children, as an expert witness to opine on the source of Christian’s lead exposure and his lead-caused injuries (medical causation). Levitas moved to exclude Klein's testimony. Levitas also moved, unsuccessfully, to exclude the Arc test results. The Circuit Court for Baltimore City excluded Klein’s testimony because he did not have adequate information concerning other sources of lead exposure and would not be able to explain the IQ test results because he does not use the test in his own practice. The court stated that Klein relied on information from another doctor and Christian’s attorney in developing his opinion, rather than examining Christian himself. The intermediate appellate court reversed. The Court of Appeals affirmed. Klein is competent to testify about lead-source causation and medical causation. View "Levitas v. Christian" on Justia Law

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Stevenson was born in 1990. After 10 months, Stevenson and her mother moved to Fairview Avenue (owned by Rochkind), where they lived for 15 months. Fairview contained flaking paint on the windowsills, floors, and porch. In 1992-1993, Stevenson’s blood lead level was tested three times. When Stevenson was five years old, she was evaluated because she was struggling to pay attention in school. A psychologist found that Stevenson’s cognitive functioning was within the “low average to borderline range.” He diagnosed Stevenson with ADHD; she started medication. In 2004, at age 13, Stevenson attempted suicide., Stevenson had auditory hallucinations and was diagnosed with major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. Since graduating from high school in 2008, Stevenson has been sporadically employed. Stevenson sued Rochkind for negligence and violations of the Maryland Consumer Protection Act. Arc Environmental conducted testing at Fairview and detected lead-based paint on 22 interior surfaces and nine exterior surfaces. Cecilia Hall-Carrington, M.D., filed a report concluding to “a reasonable degree of medical probability” that Stevenson was poisoned by lead at Fairview, and that “her lead poisoning is a significant contributing factor” to her neuropsychological problems, including her ADHD. The court denied motions to exclude Hall-Carrington’s testimony, citing Maryland Rule 5-702. Due to the statutory cap on noneconomic damages, the court reduced the total jury award to $1,103,000. The intermediate court affirmed. The Court of Appeals reversed. The trial court failed to determine whether Stevenson’s proffered sources logically supported Hall-Carrington’s opinion that lead exposure can cause ADHD. View "Rochkind v. Stevenson" on Justia Law

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The circuit court erred in dismissing the minor Appellant’s wrongful death claims as untimely and erred in failing to consider that the time limitation to file a wrongful death action is tolled when the defendant engages in fraudulent conduct that prevents the plaintiffs from bringing a wrongful death action within three years from the date of death, pursuant to Md. Code Cts. & Jud. Proc. 5-203. Cassandra Parker, Craig Parker’s mother, and Craig’s five-year-old child filed a complaint against William Hamilton alleging that Hamilton killed Craig and buried Craig’s remains in order to conceal his wrongdoing. The circuit court granted Hamilton’s motion to dismiss as to the wrongful death claims, concluding that they were time-barred under Md. Code Cts. & Jud. Proc. 3-904. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that both Md. Code Cts. & Jud. Proc. 5-201, which operates to toll a minor plaintiff’s wrongful death claims during the period of his or her minority, and section 5-203. View "Parker v. Hamilton" on Justia Law

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The Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (DPSCS) sent Laura Hughes a notice of termination from her position with the agency. Hughes followed the directions for invoking the first tier of the administrative appeal process. The Secretary of DPSCS did not respond within the statutory time limit, thus denying Hughes first-tier appeal. Hughes was unaware that this silent denial triggered the limited time for her to invoke a second-tier appeal, and therefore she did nothing before the deadline passed. Hughes belatedly attempted to pursue her administrative appeal, but DPSCS did not respond. Hughes then commenced this mandamus action in the circuit court. The circuit court dismissed the mandamus action. The Court of Special Appeals affirmed. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that, in order to discharge its responsibility to provide a disciplined employee with notice of the employee’s administrative appeal rights, an agency must advise the employee of the possibility of a second-tier appeal and alert the employee as to the significance of silence in response to a first-tier appeal. Remanded for consideration whether Hughes should be afforded the opportunity to pursue a second-tier appeal. View "Hughes v. Moyer" on Justia Law

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Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (the Commission) contracted with Fort Myer Construction Corporation to build a pedestrian bridge. After disputes arose, Fort Myer sued the Commission. The Commission impleaded URS Corporation (URS), the engineering firm that created the design documents. The circuit court eventually dismissed Fort Myer’s original complaint, but the claims between URS and the Commission went to trial. Both parties asked the court to award monetary sanctions against Fort Myer on the basis that Fort Myer had litigated its original complaint “without substantial justification.” The circuit court did so. All three parties appealed. The Court of Special Appeals reversed the circuit court’s sanctions awards. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) the intermediate appellate court properly exercised its jurisdiction to decide Fort Myer’s appeal; and (2) as for the sanctions awards against Fort Myer, the circuit court’s explanation of its reasoning did not support a finding that Fort Myer’s pursuit of its claim was “without substantial justification.” View "URS Corp. v. Fort Myer Construction Corp." on Justia Law

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Dr. Mark Geier, David Geier, and Anne Geier (collectively, Respondents) filed a complaint against the Maryland Board of Physicians and related individuals (collectively, Petitioners), alleging that Petitioners invaded their privacy by publicizing their private medical information in a cease and desist order that was issued during disciplinary proceedings. During discovery, the circuit court entered three separate orders challenged by Petitioners. The Court of Appeals (1) granted Respondents’ motion to dismiss as it related to the orders denying Petitioners’ motions for reconsideration of a default order on liability for a series of discovery failures and for a protective order from Respondents’ sixth motion to compel documents, holding that the Court did not have appellate jurisdiction of Petitioners’ appeal regarding these interlocutory orders; and (2) reversed and vacated the order granting Respondents’ sixth motion for sanctions against Petitioner regarding the disclosure audiotapes of Petitioner’s disclosures, holding that the circuit court abused its discretion in granting the motion for sanctions. Remanded. View "Maryland Board of Physicians v. Geier" on Justia Law

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Appellants brought this action just weeks before the 2016 general election seeking to compel the State Board of Elections and the Baltimore City Board of Elections (collectively, Appellees) to establish a special system for “inmate voting” in the City for the general election. The circuit court denied the request for a broadly worded temporary restraining order (TRO), concluding that the complaint had been untimely filed. One day before the 2016 general election, the expedited appeal was argued before the Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals dismissed the appeal as moot, holding that even if the Court were to find that Appellants were entitled to a TRO with respect to the 2016 general election, there was no way such an order could have been implemented as a practical matter. View "Voters Organized for the Integrity of City Elections v. Baltimore City Board of Elections" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, individuals with lung cancer, attempted to join in one action claims against Defendants, asbestos and tobacco companies, alleging that their cancers were caused by their exposure to asbestos and smoking cigarettes. Specifically, Plaintiffs claimed claimed that “the combination of asbestos exposure and cigarette smoking acted in ‘synergy’ and multiplied the risk of developing lung cancer[.]” The trial court refused to permit joinder of the two sets of defendants on the special asbestos docket maintained by the court. The appellate issues dealt with how the trial implemented its decision to deny joinder, and the issues before the Supreme Court were largely procedural. The Court held (1) there was a final judgment in the case; (2) Plaintiff’s appeal, in any event, was moot and should be dismissed on that ground; and (3) the Court of Special Appeals did not err addressing the joinder argument made by Plaintiff for guidance of the lower court in other pending cases. View "R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Stidham" on Justia Law