Law digest – 5/1/14


Administrative Law, Beer and wine licenses: The Board of License Commissioners validly denied a small grocery store’s application to transfer its beer and wine license to a chain supermarket, because the transfer to a chain supermarket was prohibited generally by statute, there was no applicable grandfathering provision and, even if there were, the intended transferee was not a similar type of business to the licensee. Woodburn’s Beverage, Inc. v. Board of License Commissioners for Calvert County, No. 0763, Sept. Term, 2012. RecordFax No. 14-0326-04, 18 pages.

Administrative Law, Open Meetings Act: Board of Education ethics panel hearing, conducted in response to two complaints that had been filed against a board member, did not violate the Maryland Open Meetings Act because the ethics panel was performing an administrative function. Dyer v. Board of Education of Howard County, No. 2317, Sept. Term, 2012. RecordFax No. 14-0326-01, 14 pages.

Administrative Law, Public housing voucher program: Public housing authority improperly terminated plaintiff’s participation in public housing voucher program on grounds that plaintiff violated program’s “family obligation,” which requires participants to obtain approval of changes in household composition, by failing to report that her estranged husband was living in her apartment, where the evidence showed only that participant’s estranged husband had been using her address. Matthews v. Housing Authority of Baltimore City, No. 2366, Sept. Term, 2012. RecordFax No. 14-0326-03, 15 pages.

Administrative law, Quasi-judicial act: Plaintiffs’ challenge to county council’s actions in granting a religious organization’s application for a water and sewer amendment, which it needed to develop property, was properly dismissed on the grounds that the council’s actions were quasi-judicial; the application was not combined with any other water and sewer category change requests, and the council’s approval was based on a specific federal court opinion and order concerning discrimination against the religious organization. Dugan v. Prince George’s County, Maryland, No. 821, Sept. Term, 2012; Dugan v. Prince George’s County, Maryland, No. 455, Sept. Term, 2013. RecordFax No. 14-0327-01, 19 pages.

Alternative Dispute Resolution, Reimbursement of attorney’s fees: The fee-shifting provision of the Maryland Uniform Arbitration Act applies only to petitions to vacate or modify arbitration award, not to a petition to stay arbitration; thus, the circuit court’s decision that a police union local’s grievance against the county was subject to arbitration under their collective bargaining agreement did not entitle the union to litigation expenses and costs incurred up to that point. Fraternal Order of Police, Montgomery County Lodge 35 v. Montgomery County, Maryland, No. 335, Sept. Term, 2013. RecordFax No. 14-0327-02, 17 pages.

Criminal Law, Criminally negligent manslaughter: The term “criminal negligence” in statute governing criminally negligent manslaughter was not unconstitutionally vague, because the statute, which criminalized a failure to perceive a substantial risk, when the failure constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care exercised by a reasonable person, informed persons of ordinary intelligence of the prohibited conduct and provided a legally enforceable standard. Beattie v. State, No. 765, Sept. Term, 2013. RecordFax No. 14-0327-00, 20 pages.

Criminal Law, Misconduct in office: Elected county executive who wrongfully took substantial advantage of free public employee help for his campaign and demanded, in a predatory and cruel manner, that his assistant empty his urine collection bag was guilty of misconduct in office. Leopold v. State, No. 0017, Sept. Term, 2013. RecordFax No. 14-0326-00, 28 pages.

Insurance, Underinsured motorist coverage: Plaintiff’s insurer was entitled to summary judgment in an action brought by insured on behalf of herself and her deceased husband’s estate, seeking underinsured motorist benefits of $300,000 per person/$300,000 per occurrence; the insureds had accepted “per person” policy limits of $100,000 each from the tortfeasor’s insurer, leaving the plaintiff’s own insurer with a remaining obligation to plaintiffs of $100,000, which had been satisfied. Connors v. Government Employees Insurance Company, No. 773, Sept. Term, 2011. RecordFax No. 14-0325-00, 22 pages.

Torts, Malicious use of process: Circuit court properly dismissed plaintiff real estate company’s malicious use of process complaint against law firm based on real estate company’s failure to show lack of probable cause, because court’s previous denial of company’s motions for judgment created presumption of probable cause which real estate company failed to rebut. Havilah Real Property Services, LLC v. Early, No. 0051, Sept. Term, 2013. RecordFax No. 14-0327-03, 21 pages.

Workers’ Compensation, Offset for retirement benefits: Based on plain meaning, the statutory mandate for adjustment of firefighters’ workers’ compensation benefits “so that the weekly total of those benefits and retirement benefits does not exceed the weekly salary that was paid to the eligible employee” could not be reasonably interpreted to limit workers’ compensation awards by retirement benefits that were not received concurrently with the workers’ compensation award. Baltimore County, Maryland v. Thielgartner, No. 2053, Sept. Term, 2012. RecordFax No. 14-0326-02, 14 pages.

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