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Top 5: ‘It’s a massive undertaking’

A battle over homeowner's insurance and funding for the public defender's office top the list of most-read legal affairs stories of the week. Also on the list are two more Court of Appeals decisions and news of a so-called "patent troll" coming to federal court in Baltimore. The Top 5 stories are: 1. AG loses fight against Allstate -- by Steve Lash Maryland’s top court Wednesday upheld Allstate Insurance Co.’s decision to stop offering new homeowners’ policies in Southern Maryland, the Lower Eastern Shore and parts of Anne Arundel County due to the company’s potential for catastrophic financial losses if a hurricane hits that region. In its 6-1 decision, the Court of Appeals said Allstate reasonably decided in 2006 not to issue new policies after concluding that a Category 4 hurricane — involving winds over 130 mph — would cause more than $237 million in property damage were it to make landfall in Worcester County. 2. Budget boost won’t cover lawyers at bail -- by Steve Lash Gov. Martin O’Malley’s proposed $1.1 million boost to the public defender’s budget next fiscal year is welcome, but falls short of the money the agency will need to comply with the decision that it must represent indigent defendants at initial bail hearings, said Maryland Public Defender Paul B. DeWolfe.

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