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Top 5 law stories of 2010

In a year’s worth of legal news, the most-read story online was only published on our website last week. Other stories that led in 2010 were about a “wrongful birth” lawsuit, whether or not alcohol can create adequate suspicion and a settlement from Jos. A. Bank.

1. Settlement terms revealed in wrongful arrest case – Brendan Kearney

On the morning of Nov. 29, 2007, Yakov Shapiro was preparing for a day of family and music — his two great loves — when there was a knock at the door of his Germantown home.

When he opened it, three Montgomery County police officers asked the 60-year-old immigrant his name and then announced, to his shock, that he was under arrest.

On the way to jail, he learned the charges: child sexual abuse.

2. Parents file $20M lawsuit for wrongful birth – Danny Jacobs

A Baltimore couple filed a wrongful birth lawsuit Monday after a sonogram showing fetus abnormalities was sent to a doctor with the same name as the treating obstetrician.

Jessica Young only learned of her baby’s problems days before Antonio Jesse McLeod was delivered prematurely last July with a hole in his diaphragm, among other complications. A lawyer for Young and Antoine McLeod, the baby’s father, estimated Antonio’s “lifetime of care” could cost the couple more than $20 million.

3. Smell of alcohol alone created adequate suspicion – Steve Lash

A “moderate” aroma of alcohol emanating from a driver provided a sufficient basis for a police officer to conduct sobriety tests, Maryland’s top court held unanimously, overturning a judge’s conclusion that the smell alone did not arouse reasonable suspicion.

The Court of Appeals said Baltimore County Circuit Judge Timothy J. Martin erroneously engaged in a constitutional analysis of whether the officer had “reasonable articulable suspicion” that motorist Adam Leigh Shea had too much to drink in ordering field-sobriety and breathalyzer tests, which found he was over the legal limit.

4. Debt collector to pay $330K settlement – Caryn Tamber and Brendan Kearney

In a victory for consumer protection advocates, a major Maryland debt collector has agreed to drop 10,000 lawsuits against people who, in turn, alleged they were pursued illegally by the then-unlicensed company.

Midland Funding LLC will also pay the class $200,000 and its lawyers $130,000.

5. Jos. A. Bank to pay $4M to end share-price litigation – by Brendan Kearney

Jos. A. Bank Clothiers Inc. has agreed to pay $4 million to settle securities litigation over certain public statements about its sales and inventory made in late 2005 and early 2006.

The Hampstead-based menswear chain reached an agreement in principle in late October to settle the 3-year-old putative class action with the plaintiffs, led by the Massachusetts Labor Annuity Fund, but only filed the particulars in a stipulation on Friday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.