Court of Appeals of Maryland: October 2013 Cert Grants

On October 18, 2013, the Court of Appeals granted certiorari in eight cases. Its website lists a ninth case where, on October 21, 2013, the Court of Appeals, by per curiam opinion, summarily granted certiorari, vacated the decision below, and remanded to the Court of Special Appeals for further review.

The October 18, 2013 order identifies the questions presented in the eight cases set for merits review:

Candace Renee Alston, et al. v. 2700 Virginia Avenue Associates, et al. – Case No. 100, September Term, 2013

Issues – Torts -1) By following its decision in West v. Rochkind, 212 Md.App. 164, 66 A.3d 1145 (2013), did CSA improperly undermine the common law principle that the law makes no distinction between the weight to be given to circumstantial evidence and direct evidence and that no greater degree of certainty is required of circumstantial evidence than of direct evidence? 2) Did CSA’s decision in West improperly change a Plaintiff’s burden of proof in a circumstantial evidence case from “preponderance of the evidence” to greater than “beyond a reasonable doubt?” 3) Does CSA’s holding improperly require a Plaintiff in a lead-paint case to prove that a given property was “the only possible explanation” for a Plaintiff’s injuries in order to make a circumstantial case?

Baltimore County, Maryland, et al. v. Baltimore County Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge No. 4 – Case No. 96, September Term, 2013

Issue – County Government – Whether the trial court erred when it issued a writ of mandamus requiring Baltimore County to designate a third party neutral to receive and investigate FOP’s complaint of an unfair labor practice regarding a change to personnel policy set forth in the County Personnel Manual, which, by definition is not subject to negotiation?

Dehn Motor Sales, LLC, et al. v. Joseph Schultz, et al. – Case No. 94, September Term, 2013

Issues – Courts and Judicial Proceedings – 1) Did CSA err in holding that Petitioners’ replevin action did not substantially comply with the notice requirements of the Local Government Tort Claims Act even though the City Solicitor’s office litigated the replevin action for three years? 2) Did CSA err in its conclusion that the Respondent police officers were constitutionally justified in seizing 67 vehicles without a warrant or court order because of an alleged emergency when that fact was disputed by Petitioners?

Luther Gales, III v. Sunoco, Inc. and American Zurich Insurance – Case No. 99, September Term, 2013

Issue – Workers’ Compensation – Are Appellants in a de novo workers’ compensation appeal required to admit into evidence the award from which the appeal was taken as an element of their burden of proof?

Gregory Howard v. State of Maryland – Case No. 97, September Term, 2013

Issues – Criminal Law – 1) Did the trial court err in refusing Petitioner’s request for a postponement without sending the matter to the administrative judge or its designee? 2) Did the trial court fail to make the necessary inquiry regarding Petitioner’s request for counsel before denying the request for a postponement? 3) Did the trial court err in finding that Petitioner’s waiver of counsel resulted in a concomitant waiver of the right to discovery? 4) Was Petitioner deprived of his constitutional right to a speedy trial?

Justin Allen Melvin v. State of Maryland – Case No. 95, September Term, 2013

Issue – Criminal Law – Must Petitioner’s jury trial waiver and subsequent conviction in a bench trial be set aside because the trial judge failed to determine and announce on the record that Petitioner was voluntarily waiving his right to a jury trial as required by Md. Rule 4-246?

Motor Vehicle Administration v. Joshua Salop – Case No. 93, September Term, 2013

Issues – Transportation – 1) Did the circuit court exceed the scope of its authority by ordering the MVA to remove a reported out-of-state speeding conviction from Respondent’s driving record where MD’s adoption of the Driver License Compact mandates that MVA maintain a record of each out-of-state conviction reported by states parties to the Compact and MD law provides no right to judicial review of the MVA’s maintenance of those driving records? 2) Did the circuit court err as a matter of law or abuse its discretion when it used its revisory power under Rule 2-535(b) to correct a non-jurisdictional “mistake,” given this Court’s long-standing precedent confining a circuit court’s authority under that Rule to correcting only jurisdictional errors? 3) Did the circuit court exceed the permissible scope of review by reviewing the underlying validity of DE’s reported conviction, in light of the plain language in Transp. § 16-708 strictly limiting judicial review of reported out-of-state convictions?

Spacesaver Systems, Inc. v. Carla Adam – Case No. 98, September Term, 2013

Issues – Labor & Employment – 1) Under MD Law, is there a distinction between a lifetime employment contract and a “continuous for-cause contract,” both terminable for any reason by employee and only for cause by employer, such that each should have different amounts and degrees of proof and different consideration required? 2) Where an employment contract contains no provision addressing duration of employment, must the contract be clear, specific and definite that the parties intended to create continuous and indefinite employment, terminable only for cause? 3) Where an employment contract contains no provision addressing the duration of employment, does a “for-cause” provision transform the contract to one providing employment for life where there is no “special consideration” to establish a contract for lifetime employment? 4) Is this Court’s dicta in Towson University v. Conte, 384 Md. 68, 862 A.2d 941 (2004) suggesting that a “just cause” provision transforms “at-will” employment into employment terminable only for cause inconsistent with this Court’s holding in Suburban Hospital v. Dwiggins, 324 Md. 294, 596 A.2d 1069 (1991) that employment contracts of an indefinite duration create “at-will” employment and remain so even if that agreement sets forth some bases that provide the employer cause for termination? 5) Does the presence of a “for cause” provision in an employment contract transform at-will employment to lifetime employment terminable only for cause?

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