Law digest – 2/13/14


Contract Law, Breach of contract: Trial court erred in granting an author judgment as to liability in her breach of contract action against a publisher because evidence submitted was sufficient to have the jury decide whether certain characters in author’s book were reasonably identifiable individuals who patronized a library within a Michigan community and thus whether author materially breached contract by failing to fictionalize the book as agreed. Publish America, LLP v. Stern, No. 2965, Sept. Term, 2010. RecordFax No. 14-0203-02, 23 pages.

Criminal Procedure, Writ of actual innocence: Trial court properly denied without a hearing defendant’s petition for writ of actual innocence for failure to comply with statutory requirements for such a writ because much of the evidence described in defendant’s petition was not “newly discovered evidence,” and the remainder, even if “newly discovered,” failed to create a substantial or significant possibility that the result might have been different. Keyes v. State, No. 2552, Sept. Term, 2011. RecordFax No. 14-0128-09, 16 pages.

Evidence, Hearsay: Circuit court properly applied doctrine of forfeiture by wrongdoing to admit at defendant’s criminal trial for attempted murder prior sworn statement of witness who was murdered prior to start of trial because witness was unavailable by reason of his murder, defendant was on trial for a crime of violence, and evidence showed defendant’s motivation and specific intent to prevent witness from testifying in court. Smiley v. State, No. 2237, Sept. Term, 2012. RecordFax No. 14-0129-01, 42 pages.


Constitutional Law, Preemption: Consumer’s negligence claims for injuries sustained as result of use of dangerous drug manufactured by defendant pharmaceutical company were preempted by impossibility under Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act because, if there was a general duty to protect consumers from injury based on the negligent marketing and sale of a product, a manufacturer whose product was unreasonably dangerous as sold could not have satisfied that duty without changing its warnings or formulation. Drager v. PLIVA USA Inc., No. 12-1259. RecordFax No. 14-0128-60, 19 pages.

Criminal Law, Sexual offender registration requirement: Defendant’s plea of nolo contendere to attempted sexual battery in Florida state court, in which adjudication was withheld but pursuant to which defendant was sentenced to a term of probation, qualified as a “conviction” because plea resulted in a penal consequence, and, therefore, defendant’s conviction for failure to register as sex offender in compliance with Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act was affirmed. United States v. Bridges, No. 13-4067. RecordFax No. 14-0127-60, 12 pages.

Tax Law, Government exemption: Government-established mortgage associations Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were exempt from payment of state and local taxes imposed on transfer of real property in Maryland and South Carolina because exclusions of real property taxes from general tax exemptions of associations under applicable federal statute did not include any exclusion of transfer and recordation taxes collected by counties. Montgomery County v. Fannie Mae, No. 13-1691. RecordFax No. 14-0127-61, 25 pages.

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