August 2014 Maryland Certiorari Grants

What better way to welcome back the Court of Appeals from its summer recess than with a new slate of cert grants? This assortment should especially draw the attention of employment lawyers (questions about the viability of the reasonable-expectations doctrine and the relationship between retirement and workers’ comp benefits), criminal attorneys (matters on merging sentences and the conducting of voir dire), and practitioners with a niche interest in underinsured-motorist benefits (a double-dose of UIM cases this month). Without further ado, the latest appellate admissions after the jump… drum roll, please …

Granted August 27, 2014

Board of Public Works, et al. v. K. Hovnanian’s Four Seasons at Kent Island, LLC – Case No. 57

Issues – Environmental Law – 1) Was Appellee required to await a final administrative decision and exhaust statutory administrative remedies before bringing an action for mandamus, injunction, and declaratory judgment to challenge the administrative procedure adopted to evaluate Appellee’s application for a State wetlands license? 2) Did the trial court err in substituting its judgment for that of the Board with respect to remediating the Wetlands Administrator’s conflict of interest, which involved a previously undisclosed relationship with one of Appellee’s attorneys and his law firm? 3) Did the trial court err in entering a writ of mandamus directing the Board to issue a decision on Appellee’s application for a State wetlands license by October 6, 2014, confining the facts that the Board may consider to those contained in that portion of the administrative record that existed on July 24, 2013, and limiting what the Board may consider in any future action on the project?

David S. Bontempo, individually and on behalf of Quotient, Inc. v. Clark J. Lare, et al. – Case No. 55, September Term, 2014

Issues – Corporations and Associations – 1) Does Maryland adhere to the equitable reasonable-expectations employment doctrine or does it subordinate the doctrine to the at-will employment doctrine absent a written agreement guaranteeing continued employment? 2) Did the trial court apply incorrect legal standards in making its rulings on “fraudulent” conduct under §3-413 of the Corporations and Associations Art., petitioner’s constructive-fraud claim, and petitioner’s punitive-damages claim?

Jeannine Morse v. Erie Insurance Exchange – Case No. 54, September Term, 2014

Issue – Insurance Law – When an underinsured motorist insurance company cannot prove prejudice should the law excuse it from paying contracted-for underinsurance benefits because the insured did not strictly comply with the requirements of Md. Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc., § 19-511?

State of Maryland v. Derrell Johnson – Case No. 53, September Term, 2014

Issue – Criminal Law – Did CSA err in merging both the kidnapping and robbery sentences into the felony murder sentence, rather than merging only one of them?

State of Maryland v. Eric Yancey – Case No. 56, September Term, 2014

Issue – Criminal Law – Did CSA incorrectly find reversible error where the trial court, after denying the defendant’s request to approach the bench during voir dire examination of two potential jurors, only one of whom was selected to serve on the jury, stated that defense counsel could consult with Yancey before any decision regarding whether to strike a juror was made and found explicitly credible the seated juror’s testimony that she could be “fair and impartial”?

Jeffrey Walters v. Baltimore County, Maryland – Case No. 58, September Term, 2014

Issues – Workers’ Compensation – 1) Is the County entitled to a complete offset of workers’ compensation benefits due to appellant’s election and receipt of a lump sum retirement benefit payment under the County’s Deferred Retirement Option Program (DROP) until such time as that DROP payment is fully accounted for by operation of Md. Code Ann., Lab. & Empl., § 9-503? 2) What methodology is correct for calculation of the County’s offset of workers’ compensation benefits to effectuate the legislative purpose of § 9-503 where appellant has elected and received a lump sum payment of retirement benefits under DROP?

Jessica N. Woznicki v. GEICO General Insurance Company – Case No. 52, September Term, 2014

Issues – Insurance Law – 1) In an uninsured/underinsured motorist case, did CSA err when it held that as a matter of law the underinsured motorist (UIM) carrier did not waive its right to written notice of a pending settlement with the tortfeasor’s insurance carrier where there was unequivocal testimony from Petitioner’s counsel that he received oral consent to settle from a UIM carrier representative? 2) Did CSA err when it held that the UIM carrier did not bear the burden of proving prejudice arising from the Petitioner’s failure to give written notice of the pending settlement with the tortfeasor’s insurance carrier?

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