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Law digest – 4/4/13

MARYLAND COURT OF APPEALS

Administrative Law, Public utilities deregulation: In establishing a rate stabilization plan to further the transition to a competitive market for electricity supply, the legislature did not intend for credits and charges to affect the electric company’s franchise tax liability. State Department of Assessments and Taxation v. Baltimore Gas & Electric Company, No. 14, Sept. Term, 2012. RecordFax No. 13-0322-23, 29 pages.

Family Law, Independent adoption: A natural parent’s failure to file a timely objection to a proposed independent adoption constitutes an irrevocable consent to the adoption. In Re: Adoption of Sean M., No. 54, Sept. Term, 2012. RecordFax No. 13-0322-22, 22 pages.

Premises Liability, Expert testimony in lead-paint case: In a lead-paint poisoning action, the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in excluding the testimony of plaintiff’s proposed expert witness as to the source of exposure; however, the absence of such an expert was not necessarily fatal to plaintiff’s case because a causal link between defendant’s property and plaintiff’s exposure may be established through circumstantial evidence. Ross v. Housing Authority of Baltimore City, No. 10, Sept. Term, 2012. RecordFax No. 13-0322-20, 29 pages.

Real Property, Foreclosure on promissory note: A loan servicing company’s physical possession of a promissory note, indorsed in blank, gave it the right to enforce the note; therefore no genuine dispute of material fact existed as to defendants’ authority to foreclose on plaintiff’s property. Deutsche Bank National Trust Company v. Brock, No. 55, Sept. Term, 2012. RecordFax No. 13-0322-21, 22 pages.

COURT OF SPECIAL APPEALS

Criminal Law, Gun registration: The circuit court erred in dismissing a prosecution for failure to comply with local gun offender registration act on the basis that the police commissioner failed to properly file the “regulations” adopted pursuant to act, where: defendant was not harmed by the commissioner’s failure to file; the registration forms did not constitute “regulations”; and, even they did, they did not invalidate the ordinance or defendant’s duty to re-register. State v. Phillips, No. 457, Sept. Term, 2011. RecordFax No. 13-0320-00, 43 pages.

Criminal Procedure, Bail bond remission: The trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying the surety’s petition for remission, where defendant was produced in court after the 90/180 day period and, therefore, the surety was only entitled to the actual expense incurred for defendant’s arrest, apprehension, or surrender, pursuant to CP §5-208(b)(2). Financial Casualty Insurance Company v. State, No. 1400, Sept. Term, 2011. RecordFax No. 13-0321-02, 16 pages.

Criminal Procedure, Cross-examination: The trial court erred in prohibiting the defense from cross-examining the State’s principal witness about the effect a criminal conviction might have on her immigration status. Carrero-Vasquez v. State, No. 1443, Sept. Term, 2011. RecordFax No. 13-0321-04, 32 pages.

Evidence, Blood alcohol test: The trial court did not err in denying defendant’s motion to suppress the blood alcohol test, where police officer, who smelled alcohol on defendant’s breath, had probable cause to arrest defendant. McCormick v. State, No. 1855, Sept. Term, 2011. RecordFax No. 13-0321-05, 14 pages.

Evidence, Expert testimony: The circuit court improperly barred a pharmacist from testifying as an expert on the issue of a cancer patient’s informed consent to the use of a prescription drug; although the pharmacist was not a medical doctor, he was well qualified in oncology pharmacy practice, was an oncology clinical specialist, and had counseled patients on appropriate and safe use of oncology medications, including the drug at issue in this case. Fusco v. Shannon, No. 2819, Sept. Term, 2010. RecordFax No. 13-0320-02, 40 pages.

Family Law, Child support calculation: In calculating actual income in order to determine the amount of child support owed, the circuit court abused its discretion by including the father’s unrealized “pass-through” income from a company investment vehicle, because father submitted suitable documentation of actual income (including his federal income tax return, law firm pay stub, and Army Reserves pay stub), and was not required to present expert testimony as to how the investment vehicle was designed. Reichert v. Hornbeck, No. 0213, Sept. Term, 2012. RecordFax No. 13-0320-01, 88 pages.

Negligence, Medical malpractice: The trial court did not err in denying defendants’ motion to dismiss plaintiffs’ medical malpractice claim for failure to file a proper certificate of qualified expert, where defendant’s possession of the expert’s testimony in the first trial cured any lack of detail in the expert report during the second trial. Barnes v. Greater Baltimore Medical Center, No. 0789, Sept. Term, 2011. RecordFax No. 13-0321-01, 36 pages.

4TH U.S. CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS

Civil Procedure, Diversity jurisdiction: District court properly denied plaintiff’s motion to remand action to state court on ground that amount in controversy did not exceed $75,000 threshold for diversity jurisdiction, because district court correctly found that it was more likely than not that plaintiffs’ attorneys’ fees in declaratory judgment action, when coupled with amount plaintiffs expended to defend underlying tort action, would exceed jurisdictional threshold. Francis v. Allstate Insurance Company, No. 12-1563. RecordFax No. 13-0301-63, 18 pages.

Criminal Procedure, Sentencing enhancement: Because Tennessee’s statutory rape provision sets the age of consent at 18 and is therefore significantly broader than the generic offense, defendant’s conviction did not categorically qualify for the crime-of-violence sentencing enhancement. U.S. v. Rangel-Castaneda, No. 12-4408. RecordFax No. 13-0307-60, 15 pages.