Law digest – 4/3/14


Civil Procedure, Default: Defendant was not entitled to a default judgment against plaintiff for failure to answer defendant’s counterclaim because defendant did not show a substantial and sufficient controversy as to the merits, plaintiff’s failure to plead was excusable given that his original attorney had left his firm and paperwork was inadvertently neglected, and defendant did not suffer any harm as a result of court’s failure to enter a default. Abrishamian v. Wash. Med. Group, P.C., No. 49, Sept. Term, 2013. RecordFax No. 14-0304-02, 32 pages.

Criminal Procedure, Search of mobile phone: Trial court properly denied defendant’s 4th Amendment motion to suppress physical evidence obtained from an examination of defendant’s mobile phone because police had defendant’s mobile phone number from an independent source as well as from examining the phone itself, and a detective obtained a judicially issued court order for the phone company to produce the company’s records of calls to and from defendant’s cell phone. Williams v. State, No. 1782, Sept. Term, 2012. RecordFax No. 14-0226-01, 24 pages.

Environmental law, Contract interpretation: Agreement between natural gas company and environmental group, under which the company could use designated area for activities including “marine operations involving the importing of” liquid natural gas and the “receipt by tanker and the receipt or delivery by pipeline of LNG,” was unambiguous and, taken as a whole, did not bar the company from constructing a new facility within the designated area or transferring LNG from designated area to offshore pier. Sierra Club v. Dominion Cove Point LNG, L.P., No. 2429, Sept. Term, 2012. RecordFax No. 14-0228-02, 28 pages.

Estates & Trusts, Successor beneficiary: Charitable foundation was entitled to declaratory judgment that it was the rightful beneficiary of a trust because, contrary to claim of organization claiming to be foundation’s “successor,” the foundation never transferred “all or substantially all” of the assets of the trust; rather, it only transferred “all or substantially all” of its real and personal property associated with a home for the elderly that was operated by the foundation. John B. Parsons Home, LLC v. John B. Parsons Found., No. 109, Sept. Term, 2013. RecordFax No. 14-0304-00, 33 pages.

Estates & Trusts, Testamentary trust: The beneficiary of a testamentary trust may not file exceptions to an administration account after the statutory deadline for doing so, even when the beneficiary did not receive notice of the filing of the account. Vito v. Klausmeyer, No. 0044, Sept. Term, 2013. RecordFax No. 14-0304-01, 12 pages.

Family Law, Alimony: Trial court did not err in declining to impute earned income to wife in its alimony award determination where wife presented evidence establishing over 20 years of unemployment, continuing medical difficulties, and a luxurious standard of living for many years preceding the divorce, and, given the unconscionable disparity in the parties’ standards of living, the alimony award was not an abuse of discretion. Reynolds v. Reynolds, No. 1691, Sept. Term, 2012. RecordFax No. 14-0226-00, 31 pages.

Family Law, Contempt: Circuit court’s contempt order against father in arrearage on court-ordered child support, which required that father periodically file job search logs but sentenced father to 179 days’ immediate incarceration, was legally deficient because it did not afford father the opportunity at to purge his contempt prior to incarcerating him. Stevens v. Tokuda, No. 2724, Sept. Term, 2012. RecordFax No. 14-0225-03, 25 pages.

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