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Top 5: ‘The voyage is over’

One lawyer was sanctioned by a federal judge and another was disbarred by the Court of Appeals, which also held an accounting error was worth $73 million to the state retirement system. Here are the Top 5 law stories of the week.

1. Judge fines lawyer $5K for pursuing age discrimination lawsuit – by Brendan Kearney

Jason A. Ostendorf’s clients claimed they were fired by The Arc of Howard County due to their age, but failed to produce any evidence to rebut the Arc’s claim that they were fired for losing a patient they were supposed to be transporting, then trying to cover up their error.

“Attorneys are entitled, and sometimes even obligated, to sail into shallow waters as investigation and discovery reveal weaknesses in the factual and legal theories of a case,” Judge James K. Bredar wrote in U.S. District Court in Baltimore. “However, once the ship has not just bumped a shoal or two, but instead has collided with rocks and begun to take on water, the voyage is over and counsel is required to drop his sails.”

2. Congregation seeks $4M from P.G. County – by Danielle Ulman

A Seventh-day Adventist group has filed a federal lawsuit against Prince George’s County for thwarting the congregation’s plans to move forward once again with building a church on its property.

Reaching Hearts International Inc. has tangled with the county for eight years, winning a $3.7 million discrimination verdict in 2008, after the county first denied it the water and sewer permit needed to build the religious facility.

3. Lawyer’s side practice leads to disbarment – by Danielle Ulman

Michael R. Carithers Jr. also deposited checks into his personal account instead of a trust account, used letterhead, billing statements and resources from his employer, Brown & Sheehan LLP, and retained clients that the firm had dropped because they did not pay their bills.

“Both Michael Brown and I are really saddened by the result here. While I haven’t read the Court of Appeals’ decision, I’m sure they gave him every consideration,” said David Sheehan, a founding member of Brown & Sheehan, who now works as of counsel for Thomas & Libowitz P.A. in Baltimore.

4. State pensions get $73M win – by Danielle Ulman

A decades-old error by its former actuarial firm cost the Maryland State Retirement System $73 million in lost earnings and contributions — money the firm must now repay in full, the state’s highest court has held.

Milliman Inc. did not realize its error for 22 years, leaving the plans for judges, state police and local law enforcement underfunded, according to Wednesday’s opinion by the Court of Appeals.

5. Baltimore to pay $115K for 2 arrests – by Brendan Kearney

Baltimore’s Board of Estimates approve a $100,000 payment to a 65-year-old man who alleged he was badly beaten outside his Govans home two years ago by plainclothes police officers who suspected he was rolling a joint.

The city spending panel also awarded $31,800 to one of the two city officers convicted of misconduct in office earlier this year for allegedly kidnapping a West Baltimore teen.