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Top 5: ‘He really was a prisoner’

A $28,000 suit was filed against William Donald Schaefer’s estate and deliberations are underway in the Exxon Mobil mass-action lawsuit. Those stories and more were the most-read on our site this week in our legal affairs top 5.

1. Schaefer estate hit with $28K claim – by Danny Jacobs

A frequent political candidate and disbarred lawyer who claims he had a 25-year friendship with William Donald Schaefer has filed a $28,000 claim against the late governor’s estate.

J. Michael Schaefer, who is not related to the governor, alleges he took Schaefer out for meals and civic appearances three times a week beginning in September 2006 through the former governor’s death in April. The claim, filed with the Baltimore County Register of Wills on Tuesday, seeks $500 per month for what Mike Schaefer described as being a part-time caregiver for the governor.

2. Expedia to pay Baltimore $1.6M – by Brendan Kearney

The biggest online hotel-room booking company in the Baltimore market has agreed to pay the city $1,675,000 to cover its tax liability dating from 2007 through June 2014.

Expedia Inc. and its sibling travel websites deny they owe the city any hotel tax but, to forestall the possibility of an adverse federal court decision, opted to settle Baltimore’s lawsuit in U.S. District Court.

3. Deliberations underway in Exxon case – by Danny Jacobs

Jurors began deliberations Monday morning in the second mass-action lawsuit filed by Jacksonville residents against Exxon Mobil Corp. stemming from a massive 2006 gasoline leak.

The six female jurors heard closing arguments last week in Baltimore County Circuit Court in a case that began the first week of January before Judge Robert N. Dugan.

4. Court of Appeals: MdTA’s “Take-Home Vehicle” program unenforceable – by Danielle Ulman

The state’s highest court has handed Gov. Martin O’Malley a win in a dispute with the union representing Maryland Transportation Authority police officers, finding that his administration had no duty to continue the “Take-Home Vehicle” program funded in the last year of his predecessor’s term.

The Court of Appeals said Monday that although the transportation agency has a unique set of powers, its 2006 agreement to compensate members of the Maryland Transportation Authority Police Lodge #34 of the Fraternal Order of Police with take-home vehicles was unenforceable.

5. Same-sex couples find there’s no certain path to divorce in Maryland – by Danielle Ulman

When Jessica Port got married, she did not worry about what would happen if she were ever to divorce. She was young and in love.

Port and Virginia Anne Cowan had been together for four years before deciding to marry, which they did on a trip to San Francisco in 2008. But, like half of all marriages in the United States, their relationship soured and they sought a divorce.