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Law digest: 2/13/12

MARYLAND COURT OF APPEALS

Civil Procedure, Motion for new trial: The trial court did not err in denying defendant-physician’s motion for a new trial, where the Court of Appeals’ holding in the case did not substantively change the Maryland common law of informed consent. Spangler v. McQuitty, No. 23, Sept. Term, 2011. RecordFax No. 12-0127-20.

Criminal Procedure, Sentencing: Rule 4–345(a) is an appropriate vehicle for challenging a sentence that is imposed in violation of a plea agreement to which the sentencing court bound itself and because defendant’s sentence exceeded the sentencing “cap” to which the trial court agreed to be bound, the sentence was illegal. Matthews v. State, No. 20, Sept. Term 2011. RecordFax No. 12-0126-21.

Insurance Law, Discrimination: Insurance carrier’s decision to cease writing new homeowners policies in certain geographic areas was in compliance with IN §§27–501(a) and 19–701(a), in that the geographic designations were reasonably related to the carrier’s economic and business purposes and were not arbitrary or unreasonable. People’s Insurance Counsel Division v. Allstate Insurance Company, No. 60, Sept. Term, 2011. RecordFax No. 12-0125-22.

Zoning, Appealability : While the Montgomery County Council decision to not designate a building as a historic site was a final appealable agency decision, the Planning Commission’s recommendation to the County Council was not. Montgomery Preservation, Inc. v. Montgomery County Planning Board of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, No. 36, Sept. Term 2011. RecordFax No. 12-0124-24.

U.S. 4TH CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS

Civil Procedure, Offer of judgment: In plaintiff’s lawsuit seeking unspecified actual damages from defendants for alleged violations of the Fair Debt Collection Act, defendants’ offer of judgment under Federal Rule of Civil of Procedure 68, which offered plaintiff actual damages in the amount of $250 or an amount determined by the court, did not render plaintiff’s action moot because the offer was not unequivocal and deprived plaintiff of right to have damages determined by a jury. Warren v. Rogers, No. 10-2105. RecordFax No. 12-0111-62.

Labor & Employment, Arbitration agreement: Where agreement between mine workers’ union and coal company contained arbitration clause granting authority to an arbitrator to resolve any dispute alleging breach of the agreement, the court was the proper forum for determining whether union’s claim that coal company’s breached its duties under the agreement was arbitrable, and because coal company did not rebut the general presumption in favor of arbitrability, this presumption controlled, and parties’ dispute was subject to arbitration by arbitrator. Peabody Holding Company v. United Mine Workers of America, No. 10-2134. RecordFax No. 12-0111-60.

Labor & Employment, Mineral Mine Safety Act: Virginia’s Mineral Mine Safety Act, which provides for warrantless administrative inspections of surface mines to respond to complaints of violations of the Act, did not violate the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure. Slate v. Fehrer, No. 11-1112. RecordFax No. 12-0113-61.

Military Law, Habeas corpus petition: Ex-soldier who had available remedies within the military justice system was required to exhaust those remedies before petitioning federal district court for collateral review of his challenge to the Army’s court-martial jurisdiction over him. Hennis v. Hemlick, No. 10-6400. RecordFax No. 12-0117-60.

Torts, Federal Tort Claims Act: Where parents of injured child were awarded damages for child’s future care costs in Federal Tort Claims Act action against government doctors, remedy of allowing government to retain a reversionary interest in the lump-sum, present-value judgment without remaining liable for gross costs of child’s future care sufficiently approximated California law, which controlled, in a manner consistent with FTCA. Cibula v. United States, No. 10-1245. RecordFax No. 12-0109-62.