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Daily Record Staff//December 4, 2017


By Daily Record Staff

//December 4, 2017

Employment Law  — Maryland Wage & Hour Law — Attorney’s fees

The underlying attorneys’ fees litigation springs from the lawsuit filed in June 2013 by Victoria Kelly (“Appellee” “Ms. Kelly”), a home-health employee, in the Circuit Court for Wicomico County against her employer, Pinnacle Group, LLC, and its sole owner, Anthony D’Antonio (collectively, “Appellants” “Pinnacle”). Ms. Kelly sued to recover, inter alia, unpaid overtime wages, treble damages, and attorneys’ fees under the Maryland Wage Payment & Collection Law, Md. Code (2008 Repl. Vol., 2012 Supp.), Labor & Employment Article (“LE”), §§ 3–501 et seq. (“MWPCL”) and the Maryland Wage & Hour Law, LE §§ 3–401 et seq. (“MWHL”). After a series of settlement negotiations, litigation in two state trial courts, and a decision from this Court applying a Court of Appeals’ ruling on the scope of the MWPCL, the parties settled Ms. Kelly’s claim for $15,500. She then petitioned the circuit court for $146,987.66 in attorneys’ fees and $2,851.40 in costs. After the circuit court awarded $49,250.00 in fees against Appellants, they appealed to this Court. Ms. Kelly also filed a cross appeal, contesting the court’s reduction of her claimed attorneys’ fees.

We have rephrased and consolidated the ten issues presented by the parties into the following six:

1. Did the Settlement Agreement preclude Ms. Kelly from seeking an award of attorneys’ fees against Appellants?

2. Did res judicata bar Ms. Kelly’s petition for attorneys’ fees and costs associated with her MWHL claim, given the dismissal of Ms. Kelly’s suit on that claim in district court?

3. Did the circuit court err in awarding attorneys’ fees associated with her MWHL claim without making the predicate finding that Appellants violated the MWPCL?

4. Did the circuit court err in finding there was no bona fide dispute in Appellants’ failure to pay Ms. Kelly overtime wages?

5. Did Mr. D’Antonio qualify as Ms. Kelly’s employer under the economic reality test so that he could be held jointly and severally liable for attorneys’ fees?

6. Using the lodestar analysis, did the circuit court correctly determine that Ms. Kelly was entitled to attorneys’ fees and adequately calculate the fee award?

Read the opinion here


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