- Benjamin Rosenberg and Lauren McLarney recently secured a victory in the Maryland Court of Appeals for public access to judge’s names on Case Search, the Administrative Office of the Courts’ public website. In a 5-2 decision issued on July 28, 2022, the Court of Appeals ruled in Administrative Office of the Courts vs. Abell Foundation that the key to the codes the AOC used in place of Baltimore City District Court judges’ names on Case Search must be disclosed to the public. A three-digit code appeared instead of those judges’ names. The AOC took the position that it could not disclose the key to those codes. Ben Rosenberg represented the Abell Foundation in an action under the Maryland Public Information Act to require the AOC to disclose the key. The Circuit Court for Baltimore City ruled in favor of the Abell Foundation and ordered the AOC to disclose the key to the codes. The AOC appealed the Circuit Court’s decision to the Maryland Court of Special Appeals, which also held that the key was not exempt from public disclosure. The AOC was granted certiorari by the Court of Appeals which affirmed, reasoning that disclosure would not compromise privacy, security or judicial privilege and is consistent with the text and history of the rules governing public access to court records. This decision vindicates the foundational democratic principle of judicial transparency.
- Benjamin Rosenberg and Lauren McLarney recently secured a victory for public access to court records. They represented the Abell Foundation in Administrative Office of the Courts v. Abell Foundation. On July 1, 2021, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals ruled that the codes the AOC used in place of district court judges’ names on Case Search, the AOC’s public website, must be disclosed. Case search was supposed to expand online access to case records, but district court judges’ names were not shown on the website. Instead, a three-digit code appeared. Ben Rosenberg represented the Abell Foundation in an action under the Maryland Public Information Act to require the AOC to disclose the codes. In October 2019, the Circuit Court for Baltimore City ruled in favor of the Abell Foundation and ordered the AOC to disclose the codes that identify each District Court judge. The AOC appealed the Circuit Court’s decision to the Court of Special Appeals, which agreed that the codes are not exempt from public disclosure. This decision vindicates a foundational principle of democracy: public access to judicial proceedings must be as unfettered as possible. Courts cannot conduct their businesses from behind a curtain of anonymity.
- In Charles Fitzpatrick, et al. v. University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center, LLC (May 26, 2021), the Court of Special Appeals reversed the decision of the Circuit Court for Baltimore County granting summary judgment in favor of the hospital in this medical practice case involving a nurse’s violation of the standard of care by failure to initiate the hospital’s chain of command policy. The Court of Special Appeals held that the Circuit Court erred in entering summary judgment because the plaintiffs had presented sufficient expert testimony to create a jury question on the issue of whether the nurse’s failure to initiate the chain of command caused the plaintiffs’ injuries. Jamar Brown and Andrew Baida represented the plaintiffs in the appeal.
- RMG attorney Lauren McLarney prevailed in representing a manager who was abruptly removed from his facility by a state agency. The hearing officer adopted RMG’s rationale and held that the agency lacked probable cause to remove the client.
- In Sethi v. Bent (March 15, 2021), the Court of Special Appeals affirmed a $1.8 million judgment entered in a medical malpractice case, holding that the Circuit Court did not abuse its discretion by limiting the defendant healthcare providers’ cross-examination of the plaintiffs’ expert witness. Rosenberg Martin Greenberg attorneys Andy Baida and Jessica Duvall represented the plaintiffs in the appeal.
- RMG partners Adam Ruther and Jeff Lichtstein won a complete dismissal of conspiracy and unjust enrichment claims in United States District Court against a prominent Baltimore developer. In dismissing the case against RMG’s client, the Court adopted the rationale presented by RMG’s motion and held that there was no basis for the claims against the client.
- Benjamin Rosenberg and Jamar Brown prevailed in an important police excessive force case before the Court of Appeals of Maryland in Estate of Jeffrey Blair by Personal Representative Tiauna Blair v. David Austin, No. 35, September Term, 2019. In May 2017, a jury for the Circuit Court for Baltimore City determined that an officer of the Baltimore Police Department used excessive force when he shot Mr. Jeffrey Blair, an unarmed African American citizen, four times and also ordered that Mr. Blair be tased by another BPD officer after he was shot. On appeal, the Court of Special Appeals reversed the jury’s verdict after watching the video evidence in the case and concluding based only on the video that the officer had acted reasonably. In a decision issued Tuesday, June 2, 2020, the Court of Appeals reinstated the jury’s verdict. The Court of Appeals held that the Court of Special Appeals’ had improperly “usurped the jury’s role and substituted its own factual findings for those of the jury” in evaluating the police officer’s conduct. This is a very timely and important case, and Marylanders should understand the Court’s decision in the context of current events. Through this decision, the Court of Appeals vindicated a private citizen’s right to have a jury review a police officer’s conduct based on the evidence before it and render a verdict supported by that evidence. Please read more about the case in articles run in Daily Record and The Baltimore Sun.
- In an 81-page opinion issued on April 24, 2020, Maryland Reclamation Associates v. Harford County, the Court of Appeals upheld the reversal of a $45.4 million jury verdict against Harford County. Andy Baida, Ben Rosenberg, and Jamar Brown of Rosenberg Martin Greenberg (RMG) were retained to represent Harford County in the appeal. Litigation between MRA and Harford County over MRA’s attempt to open and operate a rubble landfill has been going on since 1990. In this case, MRA argued that Harford County had effectively taken MRA’s property without just compensation by denying MRA’s request for a zoning variance that would have permitted the operation of the landfill on MRA’s property. The Court of Appeals agreed with RMG’s argument that MRA’s takings claim should be dismissed based on MRA’s failure to raise this constitutional issue in any administrative proceeding. The Court also agreed with RMG that the takings claim was barred because MRA had failed to file it within the time permitted by the statute of limitations. Click here to read the article from The Daily Record.
A commercial Tenant, represented by T. Christine Pham and Gerard P. Martin, successfully defended a multimillion dollar claim for structural repairs, holdover rent and lost rent damages. Tenant argued that it was not required to make the disputed repairs or pay for their entire costs as the lease included cost-sharing provisions, and the conditions giving rise to its duty to pay had not occurred by the time it vacated the premises at the expiration of the lease term. On April 16, 2020, in a reported opinion titled Expo Properties, LLC v. Experient, Inc., the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed summary judgment in Tenant’s favor and rejected Landlord’s argument that an estoppel certificate, signed only the Tenant, had eliminated the cost-sharing provisions and required the Tenant to pay for all structural repairs Landlord made after the lease term ended. The Fourth Circuit held that, in the absence of mutual assent, the estoppel certificate did not amend a lease, leaving the cost-sharing provisions of the lease intact. Further, where the lease provided that Landlord could make repairs and charge the costs to the Tenant as additional rent, Landlord was precluded from seeking costs of structural repairs it made after the lease had expired.
- Rosenberg Martin Attorneys Adam Ruther and Jerry Martin prevailed before the Maryland Tax Court in seeking a refund of $177,000 in simulated gaming machine license fees illegally collected by Baltimore County. This case started as a simple refund claim, but made its way from the Maryland Tax Court, through the Circuit Court, and the Court of Special Appeals on jurisdictional issues before being remanded to the Tax Court for a trial. RMG counsel won every battle, and eventually won the war for their clients.
- When the Abell Foundation studied the landscape of bail reform in Baltimore City, the Foundation discovered that District Court judges’ names did not appear on the Maryland Judiciary Case Search public website. Instead of identifying the judges who decide each case, the MJCS uses a three-digit code. The Abell Foundation filed a request for the codes under the Maryland Public Information Act, but the Administrative Office of the Courts refused to provide them.Representing the Abell Foundation pro bono, Rosenberg Martin Greenberg’s founder and chairman, Ben Rosenberg, and RMG associate, Lauren McLarney, filed a motion for summary judgment in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City. In a ruling issued last week, Judge Lawrence Fletcher-Hill vindicated the public interest in judicial transparency and ordered the Administrative Office of the Courts to release the codes that identify the names of District Court judges.
- In an opinion issued on August 1, 2019, Harford County v. Maryland Reclamation Associates, Inc., the Court of Special Appeals reversed a $45.4 million jury verdict against Harford County. Andy Baida, Ben Rosenberg, and Jamar Brown were retained to represent Harford County in the appeal. Litigation between MRA and Harford County over MRA’s attempt to open and operate a rubble landfill has been going on since 1990. In this case, MRA argued that Harford County had effectively taken MRA’s property without just compensation by denying MRA’s request for a zoning variance that would have permitted the operation of a landfill on MRA’s property. The Court of Special Appeals agreed with RMG’s argument that MRA had failed to file its claim within the time permitted by the statute of limitations. Click here to read the article in The Daily Record.
- March 25, 2019, Baltimore County Circuit Court - Steven H. Levin and Lauren M. McLarney represented the defendant who was charged with 1st-degree assault, 2nd-degree assault and use of a dangerous weapon. He faced up to 25 years in prison. Following extensive discovery production and intensive negotiations in which neither party was willing to yield, our client’s trial team was prepared for a heated contested trial. The Assistant State’s Attorney called the case before the Circuit Court judge. After the state rested, our trial team noted that the state had failed to prove the elements of the charged offenses. Consequently, we made a motion for a judgment of acquittal. The judge agreed and granted our motion. Our client thanked us “for giving me back my life.”
- In Sarah Flora v. Everest Wealth Management, Inc., et al. (October 10, 2018), Jamar Brown and Joshua Bradley represented a business executive in a lawsuit against a former employer for unpaid wages and related claims. Following a three-day trial, a jury for the Circuit Court for Baltimore County entered a verdict in favor of the employee, awarding more than $400,000 in back wages and punitive damages. The Circuit Court also entered a $147,000 judgment for attorneys’ fees in favor of the employee.
- On March 28, 2018, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed the decision of the United States District Court for the District of Maryland in White Marlin Open, Inc. v. Phillip Heasley, Case No. 17-1901. In the District Court, the Honorable Richard D. Bennett ruled that White Marlin Open properly applied the rules of the 2016 tournament. Philip Heasley, one of the anglers in the 2016 tournament, and his crew members aboard the Kallianassa, did not pass polygraph examinations, which were required under the rules of the tournament. Based on the polygraph examination results, White Marlin Open did not pay the prize money of Two Million Eight Hundred Eighteen Thousand Dollars ($2,818, 000.00) to Mr. Heasley. Instead, to protect the integrity of the tournament and to act in fairness to all participants, White Marlin Open filed an interpleader action in court and asked the Court to determine whether the White Marlin Open directors had acted appropriately in withholding the money from Mr. Heasley. In a two-week trial, White Marlin Open put on evidence of the appropriateness of the polygraph examinations, and the reasonableness of its actions in withholding the prize money under the tournament rules. The court verified that White Marlin Open had applied its rules in a fair manner, had the authority to impose the polygraph upon its participants as a way to verify that rules of the tournament were not violated by the winning anglers. Rosenberg Martin Greenberg partner David Wyand represented White Marlin Open at trial and on appeal, along with Joseph Moore from Ocean City, Maryland.
- In Redox Power Systems LLC v. Citrin, et al. (February 22, 2018), David Wyand and Jamar Brown represented two directors in an LLC to defend against an attempt by the LLC to remove them from the management of the company and to force them to sell their shares at a discount. During the trial of the case, the Circuit Court for Howard County entered judgment in favor of RMG’s clients, holding that the Operating Agreement did not give the other directors of the company the power to remove RMG’s clients as directors and did not permit the forced buyout of shares.
- In a decision issued on February 20, 2018, the Court of Special Appeals in Hariri v. Dahne reversed a judgment awarding damages against two dentists for breaching their employment contracts with the owners of a dental practice. The appellate court held that the dental practice owners failed to prove that lost profits damages were reasonably foreseeable and calculated with reasonable certainty. Andy Baida represented one of the dentists.
- In a decision issued on October 4, 2017, the Circuit Court for Baltimore County in The Cochran Firm - DC, PLLC v. Sullivan dismissed a declaratory judgment action filed by a law firm against the guardians of an individual who had sued the law firm in another case for committing legal malpractice by failing to file a timely medical malpractice action. The law firm sought a declaration that the medical malpractice action was not barred by the statute of limitations and that the guardians had no right to file a medical malpractice claim. The Circuit Court held that the same issues raised in the declaratory judgment case can and should be decided in the pending legal malpractice action. Andy Baida represented the guardians.
- On June 14, 2017, after a two-week trial in United States District Court for the District of Maryland, the Honorable Richard D. Bennett has ruled that the White Marlin Open properly applied the rules of the 2016 tournament Philip Heasley, one of the anglers in the 2016 Tournament, and his crew members aboard the Kallianassa, had not passed polygraph examinations, which were required under the rules of the tournament. As a result of the polygraph examination results, White Marlin Open did not pay the prize money of Two Million Eight Hundred Eighteen Thousand Dollars ($2,818, 000.00) to Mr. Heasley. Instead, to protect the integrity of the tournament and to act in fairness to all participants, White Marlin Open filed an interpleader action in court and asked the Court to determine whether the White Marlin Open directors had acted appropriately in withholding the money from Mr. Heasley. In a two-week trial, White Marlin Open put on evidence of the appropriateness of the polygraph examinations, and the reasonableness of its actions in withholding the prize money under the tournament rules. The court verified that White Marlin Open, Inc., had applied its rules in a fair manner, had the authority to impose the polygraph upon its participants as a way to verify that rules of the tournament were not violated by the winning anglers. Rosenberg Martin Greenberg partner David Wyand represented White Marlin Open, Inc., along with Joseph Moore from Ocean City, Maryland.
- In In the Matter of the Petition of Douglas Armstrong, et al. for Judicial Review of City Council Bill 16-0734 (May 22, 2017), the Circuit Court for Baltimore City upheld the validity of a Baltimore City Council bill which rezoned twelve corner properties in the Remington Central Business Area. Andy Baida, Caroline Hecker, and Adam Ruther represented a number of the property owners.
- RMG attorneys Gerard Gaeng and Stuart Cherry successfully represented a mortgage servicer before the Court of Special Appeals. The claim was brought by a borrower, who alleged that RMG’s client purportedly mishandled the refinance of the borrower’s house, leading to its foreclosure. RMG previously represented the mortgage servicer in the Circuit Court for Prince George’s County, which dismissed the claim. On May 17, 2017, in an unpublished opinion, the Court of Special Appeals affirmed the dismissal, agreeing with RMG’s argument that the borrower’s claim was barred by the statute of limitations.
RMG attorneys Gerard Martin and Adam Ruther represented clients who sought a refund of wrongfully collected licensing fees from a county government. When the government denied the refund, RMG attorneys appealed to the Maryland Tax Court. The government moved to dismiss the case, arguing that the Tax Court did not have jurisdiction over these kinds of fees, and the Tax Court dismissed the case on those grounds. RMG attorneys appealed the dismissal, and ultimately the Court of Special Appeals ruled that the Tax Court did, in fact, have jurisdiction to hear the case.
T. Christine Pham represented a female patient who suffered horrific physical disfigurement and mental anguish resulting from a botched gynaecological surgery. After a 6-day jury trial, a 7-member jury found the surgeon liable for medical negligence and failure to obtain informed consent. The jury awarded the patient $750,000.
T. Christine Pham defended a business in a commercial lease action pending in federal court over whether defendant satisfied its repair and maintenance obligations over the course of a 20-year lease, and left the facility in the required condition upon vacating the property when the lease expired. One month before defendant was scheduled to vacate the premises, the landlord demanded that the entire roof and entire parking lot be replaced, even though both structures had years of remaining life. Although tenant vacated the premises several years ago, the plaintiff had neither replaced the roof nor the parking lot, and it had not made any of the allegedly required repairs. After extensive discovery, the tenant moved for partial summary judgment, prompting plaintiff to file a cross motion. The Court denied plaintiff’s motion and largely granted tenant’s motion for partial summary judgment, essentially reducing the damages at issue from in excess of $4 Million to a maximum possibility of less than $150,000.
In United States of America, ex rel. Joseph M. Hedley and Fred A. Rauch, III v. Abhe & Svoboda, Inc., Judge Richard D. Bennett of the United States District Court for the District of Maryland granted the plaintiffs’ post-judgment motion on February 1, 2016 and revived a qui tam lawsuit arising out of a $10 Million contract for the cleaning and repainting of the Severn River Bridge. On July 29, 2016, Judge Bennett denied the defendant’s renewed motion to dismiss, thereby permitting plaintiffs to prosecute violations of the False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. §§ 3729 et seq., on the merits. Gerard P. Martin, Harris W. Eisenstein, and co-counsel in St. Louis, Missouri are handling the case on behalf of the plaintiffs.
In In the Matter of Annapolis Neck Peninsula Federation, et al. (August 9, 2016), the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County agreed with the arguments of the developer, QW Properties, LLC, represented by RMG Chairman Ben Rosenberg and partner Andy Baida, and held that there is no statutory right to seek judicial review of a decision by the City of Annapolis Building Board of Appeals denying an appeal from a City agency's approval of the developer's forest conservation plan.
In an opinion issued July 6, 2016, Bob Smith Automotive Group, Inc., et al. v. Ally Financial, Inc., the Court of Special Appeals affirmed judgment in favor of RMG’s client, Ally Financial, Inc. The Court upheld the Circuit Court's decision that Ally had properly demanded payment of more than $13 Million of floor-plan financing which Ally had extended to the plaintiff auto dealerships. The Court of Special Appeals also adopted the reasoning of its earlier opinion in Waller v. Maryland National Bank, 95, Md. App. 197 (1993), vacated on other grounds, 322 Md. 375 (1993), and held “that the duty of good faith and fair dealing does not preclude the holder of an unambiguous demand note from demanding immediate payment.” RMG attorneys Benjamin Rosenberg, David Wyand, Andrew Baida and Stuart Cherry represented Ally.
In Glenham Community Association v. Board of Municipal and Zoning Appeals and Two Farms, Inc. (May 9, 2016), the Circuit Court for Baltimore City affirmed a decision by the Baltimore City Board of Zoning and Municipal Appeals approving the conditional use application of Two Farms, Inc. to construct a Royal Farms gasoline service station and convenience store. Andrew Baida and Caroline Hecker represented Two Farms.
In Bel Air Plaza Limited Partnership v. Ross Dress for Less, Inc., Chief Judge Catherine C. Blake of the United States District Court for the District of Maryland granted summary judgment in favor of RMG's client, Bel Air Plaza Limited Partnership, an affiliate of Hill Management Services, Inc. Benjamin Rosenberg and Harris W. Eisenstein successfully argued that Ross Dress for Less, Inc. was solely responsible for repairing damage to the flooring within the premises of its leases from Bel Air Plaza Limited Partnership. The District Court also awarded RMG’s client its legal fees and expert witness expenses pursuant to the fee-shifting provision in the lease between the parties. The District Court's opinion is available here, and the opinion and order awarding fees is available here.
In United States of America, ex rel. Joseph M. Hedley and Fred A. Rauch, III v. Abhe & Svoboda, Inc. (February 1, 2016), Judge Richard D. Bennett of the United States District Court for the District of Maryland granted the plaintiffs’ post-judgment motion and revived a qui tam lawsuit arising out of a $10 Million contract for the cleaning and repainting of the Severn River Bridge.Gerard P. Martin, Harris W. Eisenstein, and co-counsel in St. Louis, Missouri are handling the case on behalf of the plaintiffs.
In Twin Arch Crossing Homeowners Association, Inc. v. Town of Mount Airy, Maryland v. Full Property, LLC (January 12, 2016), Benjamin Rosenberg, David Wyand, and Harris W. Eisenstein represented Full Property, LLC. The HOA-plaintiff sought to compel the Town to assume ownership of private roads within a residential community developed by Full Property. The Town filed a third-party complaint against Full Property, claiming that the developer had agreed to indemnify the Town for the HOA’s claims. The Circuit Court for Carroll County granted summary judgment in favor of Full Property, LLC. The Court agreed with Full Property and the Town that the Court lacked authority to compel the Town to take ownership of the private roads, which rendered the Town’s indemnity claim against Full Property moot.
In Viveros v. Landcrafters, LLC, decided on December 16, 2015, Andy Baida convinced the Maryland Court of Special Appeals to reverse the trial court's dismissal of his client's worker's compensation claim and remand the case for a trial. The trial court dismissed the claim on the ground that the record of the proceedings before the Workers' Compensation Commission was not timely transmitted to the trial court. The appellate court reversed, holding that there was substantial compliance with the Maryland Rule governing submittal of the record and that a delay in transmitting a portion of the record resulted in no prejudice.
Gerard P. Martin acted as co-counsel for Ford Motor Company in Paice, LLC and the A.S. Abell Foundation v. Ford Motor Company, decided on July 24, 2015. Paice, LLC (“Paice”) and the A.S. Abell Foundation (“Abell”) sued Ford in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, alleging that Ford’s hybrid technology infringes on a number of United States Patents that Paice claims it holds. In partial response to the suit brought against Ford, Ford filed 25 actions before the Patent Trial and Appeals Board (PTAB) challenging the validity of the claimed Paice patents. The United States District Court then stayed the patent infringement suit pending the disposition of the PTAB actions, which could result in the patents being invalidated. Paice and Abell requested that the stay be lifted and filed a Motion for Preliminary Injunction asking the court to enjoin Ford from proceeding in the PTAB actions because of an alleged violation of an earlier Arbitration Agreement between Paice and Ford. Following a hearing in the District Court, that injunction was denied. The Patent Office will now be able to decide if it made any errors in the original grant of the Patents to Paice, which could result in complete dismissal of the underlying infringement suit.
In Redox Power Systems, LLC v. Paul Faulkner (June 1, 2015), an Arbitration Panel before the FORUM, dismissed a domain name Complaint, filed pursuant to the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP). David Wyand and Andrew Baida represented the Respondent, and successfully argued that the Panel should dismiss the UDRP Complaint because the case involved a complex business dispute that was outside the scope of the UDRP policy. The Panel’s Decision is available by clicking here.
Co-chair of RMG's Creditors' Rights group, Louis J. Ebert, was successful in opposing the confirmation of a plan of reorganization filed in the US Bankruptcy Court for the District of Maryland. The plan provided for treating the client’s second priority mortgage lien as an unsecured claim on the grounds that the value of the collateral was less than the claim of the first mortgage lender. Rather than risk the dismissal of the case, the debtor offered a settlement which involved converting our client’s unsecured claim to a fully secured claim. The result of this settlement is that instead of receiving very small payments over a period of 12 years, paying at most 3 cents on the dollar, the client will be contractually entitled to receive payment in full on its claim with 5 ½% interest, by monthly installments and a balloon after 5 years.
In a case referred by counsel for the plaintiff, Andy Baida persuaded the Court of Appeals of Maryland in Harbor Hospital v. Norfleet (January 20, 2015) not to disturb a $21 million jury verdict in favor of the plaintiff for injuries resulting from a hospital's negligence.
In Sullivan v. QW Properties, LLC (December 9, 2014), the Court of Special Appeals affirmed a decision by the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County that the City of Annapolis Board of Appeals' denial of a residential planned development application was arbitrary and capricious. RMG Chairman Ben Rosenberg and partner Andy Baida represented the developer, QW Properties, LLC.
In Robert B. Yoe, et al. v Branch Banking and Trust Company (November 12, 2014), the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed the dismissal by the United States District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia of claims asserted against RMG client BB&T by the heirs of Harry W. Yoe under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”) and for common law fraud. The District Court held that the heirs’ complaint did not state a claim under RICO and that the fraud claims were barred by the statute of limitations. The heirs appealed the dismissal of only the fraud claims. The Fourth Circuit agreed with the District Court’s conclusion that the statute of limitations expired before the heirs asserted the fraud claims. William Hallam and lawyers from Jackson Kelly, PLLC represented BB&T in the District Court. Mr. Hallam and Andrew Baida were co-counsel with Jackson Kelly, PLLC in the Fourth Circuit.
In Bob Smith Automotive Group, Inc., et al. v. Ally Financial, Inc. (September 8, 2014), the Circuit Court for Talbot County entered judgment in favor of RMG’s client, Ally Financial Inc. after a four-week bench trial before Judge Karen Murphy Jensen, specially assigned. The plaintiffs sought damages against Ally of more than $20 million, alleging that Ally improperly demanded payment of more than $13 Million of floor-plan financing, which Ally had extended to the plaintiff auto dealerships. The Court dismissed all of the plaintiffs’ tort claims at the conclusion of the trial and entered judgment in favor of RMG’s client on the remaining breach of contract claims in a 31-page written opinion filed on September 8, 2014. RMG attorneys Benjamin Rosenberg, David Wyand, Andrew Baida and Stuart Cherry represented Ally.
In Jones v. Pohanka Auto North, Inc., et al., decided on September 2, 2014, Gerry Gaeng and Jim Crossan successfully defended Maryland car dealers from claims by consumers that the dealerships violated Maryland’s Credit Grantor Closed End Credit Provisions (“CLEC”). The plaintiffs filed a putative class action complaint alleging that the dealerships sold and financed debt cancellation agreements that did not comply with CLEC and sought statutory penalties, including the forfeiture of all interest and fees collected during the life of the loans, against the dealerships. The United States District Court for the District of Maryland granted the dealerships’ motion to dismiss. The court agreed with the dealerships that because the CLEC’s language became part of the contract, as a matter of law, there was no violation of CLEC unless the dealership refused to honor the statutory language incorporated into the contract. Because there was no such refusal by the dealerships, the dealerships could not be liable for breach of contract or violation of the CLEC statute.
In a probate matter being administered by the Orphans’ Court for St. Mary’s County and as a result of a trial before a three-judge panel on August 12, 2014, Stuart A. Cherry successfully prosecuted a petition to allow a claim on behalf of one of the estate’s creditors. This victory came after the estate attempted to disallow the claim in full.
On August 5, 2014, Chief Judge Cecelia G. Morris of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York entered an order granting a motion to lift the automatic stay imposed by 11 U.S.C. Section 362 filed by Gerard J. Gaeng and Stuart A. Cherry on behalf of one of RMG’s clients. Obtaining the lifting of the bankruptcy stay permits RMG’s client to maintain a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland that RMG filed against the debtor prior to the debtor filing for bankruptcy relief.
In Tal-Dor Partners, LLC v. Clear Channel Outdoor, Inc. and NextMedia Outdoor, Inc., decided by the Court of Special Appeals on July 24, 2014, David Wyand successfully defended a claim by a landowner that a billboard lease was invalid and unenforceable. The Court of Special Appeals affirmed summary judgment granted by the Circuit Court for Dorchester County, rejecting claims that the billboard lease did not adequately describe the property, that the billboard lease had to be recorded to be enforceable, and that the billboard lease constituted an invalid subdivision.
In an arbitration proceeding and multi-pronged litigation that concluded in July 2014 in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, Ben Rosenberg, Andy Baida and Harris Eisenstein obtained judgments totaling almost $2,000,000 on behalf of RMG’s client, William Glazer, against Glazer-Kennedy Insider’s Circle, LLC, a special purpose entity formed by a Chicago-based private equity fund to acquire Mr. Glazer’s business.
In Thompkins v. Mountaineer Investment, LLC, decided on June 23, 2014, Gerry Gaeng and Andy Baida were the principal drafters of the Brief of Amici Curiae filed in the Maryland Court of Appeals on behalf of the Maryland Bankers Association and a group of national and regional financial institutions arguing against plaintiffs’ theories of assignee liability. In Thompkins, the plaintiffs claimed that the lender on their second-mortgage loan charged closing fees in excess of those permitted under Maryland’s Secondary Mortgage Loan Law (SMLL). Arguing that Maryland’s Uniform Commercial Code and common law created assignee liability, plaintiffs sought statutory penalties for the SMLL violations, including the forfeiture of all interest and fees collected during the life of the loan, against the assignee who had purchased the loan. The Court of Appeals rejected plaintiffs’ contentions and held that a borrower could not sue the assignee of a paid-off mortgage loan for violations of the SMLL that were allegedly committed by the lender at the loan closing.
In Denburg & Low, P.A. v. Reservoir Limited Partnership (November 2013), Ben Rosenberg and Andy Baida successfully argued before the Maryland Court of Special Appeals that their client could not be sued for damages by an accounting firm which discovered mold in the building space it had leased when the firm rescinded the lease prior to taking possession by cashing a check returning the security deposit and prepaid rent.
In Wrightson v. Ashburn, decided on April 5, 2013, Andy Baida and Stuart Cherry persuaded the Maryland Court of Special Appeals to overturn multiple verdicts returned by a jury based on claims arising out of a contract which the plaintiff alleged she had entered into with their clients. The total amount awarded the plaintiff at trial was $1,015,000. On appeal, the court reversed all judgments with the exception of a judgment for $315,000 against one of the clients based on a breach of contract claim, which the court vacated and remanded to the trial court for the entry of a judgment for $80,000.
Gerry Gaeng successfully represented several national financial services companies in a consolidated appeal of eighteen class-action and individual consumer lawsuits that was decided by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.
The cases were brought by borrowers who alleged that their second-mortgage loans were made in violation of Maryland’s Secondary Mortgage Loan Law (“SMLL”). Representing financial service companies who had purchased plaintiffs’ loans, Gaeng successfully argued in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland that the cases should be dismissed because there is no assignee derivative liability for SMLL violations committed by the original lenders.
When the dismissals were appealed, Gaeng again argued for defendants in the Fourth Circuit, which affirmed the dismissals and ruled that even if the borrowers could have stated claims for derivative liability against the loan purchasers under state or federal law, the claims would be barred by the applicable statutes of limitations. Click here to read the Opinion.
Gerry Gaeng and Andy Baida successfully represented several national financial services companies in multiple consolidated appeals of consumer lawsuits that were recently decided by Maryland’s Court of Appeals. The cases were brought by borrowers under Maryland’s Secondary Mortgage Loan Law (“SMLL”) against companies who had purchased the mortgage loans. Plaintiffs alleged that the lenders who made the loans violated the SMLL by failing to provide a disclosure form and by charging multiple closing fees, and argued that the purchasers of the loans should be liable for the lender’s violations. The Court of Appeals agreed with defendants that the lenders had not violated the SMLL. It held that the disclosure form was not required unless the mortgage loan is for commercial purposes, and that the charging of multiple loan origination fees does not violate the SMLL as long as the aggregate of the fees is within the statute’s 10% cap. The Court of Appeals also rejected plaintiffs’ claims that the purchasers of the loans could be liable for failing to provide loan documents to borrowers who requested them long after the loan had been paid off.