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Law digest: 4/4/11

MARYLAND COURT OF APPEALS

Civil Procedure, Joinder: The trial court, in a prior wrongful death action brought by decedent’s widow and children from second marriage, could not approve a settlement without the inclusion of decedent’s children from first marriage as plaintiffs; therefore, the trial court, in the subsequent action brought by the children from the first marriage, was required to reopen the prior action. Ace American Insurance Company v. Williams, No. 75, Sept. Term, 2010. RecordFax No. 11-0321-21.

Criminal Procedure,Petition for DNA testing: The circuit court did not err in denying defendant’s petition for post-conviction DNA testing because the search of the police department’s evidence control unit for DNA evidence from defendant’s 1982 trial was reasonable under CP §8-201. Blake v. State, No. 58, Sept. Term 2010. RecordFax No. 11-0322-21.

Election Law, Validation of signatures: The elections board was not permitted to invalidate signatures on a referendum petition solely on the grounds that the signatures were illegible, but rather it was required to determine whether the signatures were accompanied by other sufficient information identifying the signer. Montgomery County Volunteer Fire-Rescue Association v. Montgomery County Board of Elections, No. 86 Sept. Term 2010. RecordFax No. 11-0322-22.

Labor & Employment, Negligent hiring and retention: Employee’s claim against employer for negligent hiring and retention of supervisor, who allegedly sexually harassed employee, was not preempted and, therefore, the trial court erred in dismissing employee’s negligent hiring and retention claim. Ruffin Hotel Corporation of Maryland, Inc. v. Gasper, No. 24, Sept. Term, 2009. RecordFax No. 11-0321-20.

U.S. DISTRICT COURT, MARYLAND

Criminal Procedure, Grand jury instructions: Where grand jury was improperly instructed that the acting-on-advice-of-counsel defense was irrelevant at the charging stage of the proceeding, there was grave doubt that the grand jury’s decision to indict was free from the substantial influence of the erroneous legal instruction. United States v. Stevens, No. RWT 10cr0694. RecordFax No. 11-0323-40.

Labor & Employment, Disability benefits: District court held that an insurer could not be subject to penalties unless the insurer falls within ERISA’s definition of a plan administrator and that, in any event, penalties were not warranted based on the insurer’s failure to disclose an internal policy manual to the plaintiff. Flores v. Life Insurance Company of North America, Civil No. L-10-0098. RecordFax No. 11-0317-40.

Labor & Employment, Fair Labor Standards Act: An owner-employee of two taverns was prohibited from participating in tip pools, despite the fact that he worked as a bartender at the two establishments. Gionfriddo v. Jason Zink, LLC, Civil Action No. RDB-09-1733. RecordFax No. 11-0311-40.