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Law digest: 9/17/12

MARYLAND COURT OF APPEALS

Civil Procedure, Demand for jury trial: A case information report form is neither a “paper” nor a “pleading” and it is, therefore, not a proper means of demanding a civil jury trial pursuant to Rule 2-325. Duckett v. Riley, No. 61, September Term, 2007. RecordFax No. 12-0829-20, 16 pages.

Criminal Procedure , De facto arrest: Police officer’s use of a stun gun to fire two metal darts into the back of fleeing suspect converted what otherwise might have been a Terry stop into a de facto arrest for Fourth Amendment purposes, because the defendant would reasonably believe he was not free to leave; and, as there was no probable cause to arrest defendant, his gun and his statement to police should have been suppressed. Reid v. State, No. 113, Sept. Term, 2011. RecordFax No. 12-0824-22, 51 pages.

COURT OF SPECIAL APPEALS

Civil Procedure, Motion to withdraw as counsel: The circuit court’s order rejecting an attorney’s request to withdraw as counsel in a civil action is appealable under the collateral order doctrine. In The Matter of the Motion of Frederick R. Franke, Jr. To Withdraw Representation, No. 2577, Sept. Term, 2009. RecordFax No. 12-0829-03, 21 pages.

Criminal Procedure, False arrest: County police officers had probable cause to arrest a security guard who failed to produce a valid permit for the handgun he was wearing outside the nightclub where he worked, because the gun-permit law’s exemption for certain supervisory employees applies only “within the confines of the business establishment”; therefore, the guard could not prevail in his actions for false arrest or malicious prosecution. Prince George’s County v. Blue, No. 0191, Sept. Term, 2011. RecordFax No. 12-0830-03, 19 pages.

Criminal Procedure, Search and seizure: Police detectives had reasonable suspicion to stop a suspect who had a short, private meeting in his vehicle with a known heroin dealer at a public park, after the dealer had gone out of his way to collect a small package just before the meeting and was acting precisely as he had two weeks earlier, when he was seen delivering heroin. State v. Holt, No. 132, Sept. Term, 2012. RecordFax No. 12-0829-01, 32 pages.

Criminal Procedure, Waiver of counsel: The circuit court failed to comply with the dictates of Rule 4-215 before finding a waiver of counsel. Gutloff v. State, No. 207, Sept. Term, 2011. RecordFax No. 12-0831-00, 32 pages.

Evidence, Frye-Reed standard for scientific evidence: Because there is no consensus in the relevant scientific community that exposure to mold causes the injuries at issue here, the circuit court erred in concluding that the theories and methods of the expert were reliable and acceptable to establish general and specific causation, as required under the Frye-Reed standard. Montgomery Mutual Insurance Company v. Chesson, No. 2454, September Term, 2009. RecordFax No. 12-0829-02, 41 pages.

Labor & Employment, State agencies: A State agency that had laid off employees had authority, under State Personnel and Pensions Article, to fill the vacancies by reinstatement or recruitment; however, a remand to the administrative law judge was necessary to determine whether the agency had complied with the Article’s mandatory procedures for recruitment and reinstatement. Sturdivant v. Maryland Department of Health and Mental, No. 309, Sept. Term, 2011. RecordFax No. 12-0831-06, 30 pages.

Negligence, Duty: Because defendants were not in contractual privity or its equivalent with the plaintiff, defendants did not owe plaintiff any legal duty and, therefore, plaintiff’s negligence claims failed. Iglesias v. Pentagon Title and Escrow, LLC, Nos. 1562 and, 1563, Sept. Term, 2010. RecordFax No. 12-0831-02 pages.

Negligence, Expert’s certificate in medical malpractice case: Because plaintiff’s expert was not board certified in “the same or a related specialty” as defendants, and neither of the exceptions to that statutory requirement applied, the expert was not qualified to submit a valid certificate attesting to breaches of standards of care by defendants and, accordingly, the case was dismissed. Hinebaugh v. The Garrett County Memorial Hospital, No. 331, Sept. Term, 2011. RecordFax No. 12-0831-04, 36 pages.

Premises liability, Lead paint causation expert: The trial court properly excluded testimony of plaintiff’s medical causation expert as lacking a sufficient factual basis, where the expert’s opinion that the apartment owned by the defendant contained lead-based paint was supported only by age of premises and presence of lead on one component of house exterior; defendants were therefore entitled to summary judgment because without expert’s testimony, plaintiff could not prove causation. Taylor v. Fishkind, No. 2407, Sept. Term, 2010. RecordFax No. 12-0831-07, 35 pages.

Premises liability, ‘Owner’ defined : In a lead-paint poisoning lawsuit, partnership that financed, guaranteed and took an indemnity deed of trust on an apartment building, but did not own the building, was not an “owner” within the definition of city housing code; as it had no involvement with ownership, management or maintenance of the property at any time, it could not be held liable for negligence or for any violations of Consumer Protection Act. Butler v. S&S Partnership, No. 214, Sept. Term, 2011. RecordFax No. 12-0831-05, 68 pages.

Torts, Non-economic damages cap: The non-economic damages cap imposed by CJ §11-108 applies separately to damages awarded in a wrongful death and a survival action. Goss v. The Estate of Bertha Jennings, No. 1931, Sept. Term, 2010. RecordFax No. 12-0831-08, 25 pages.

Torts, Release agreements: As a matter of first impression, a parent may not waive by agreement a minor child’s future claim in negligence against a commercial enterprise; therefore, release agreement signed by parent, which purported to release retail store from claims arising from use of store’s play center by parent’s child, was invalid and unenforceable. Rosen v. BJ’s Wholesale Club, Inc., No. 2861, Sept. Term, 2009. RecordFax No. 12-0830-00, 26 pages.