December 2019 Maryland Certiorari Grants

The Maryland Court of Appeals granted review in six cases yesterday. All were civil cases, addressing toxic torts, taxation, termination of parental rights, and the law governing partnerships and homeowners associations. Below are the six grants, with questions presented and links to the Court of Special Appeals opinions under review.

Comptroller of the Treasury v. Richard Reeves Taylor – Case No. 56, September Term, 2018 (Reported COSA Opinion (Shaw Geter, J.))

Issues – Taxation – 1) Is the value of a surviving spouse’s interest in a QTIP trust created in another state properly included in the surviving spouse’s Maryland estate, and therefore subject to the Maryland estate tax? 2) Did the Tax Court improperly waive a late-filing penalty when waiver must be supported by “affirmative evidence” and the only basis cited for the waiver was the personal representative’s erroneous interpretation of the tax laws? 3) Is Petitioner’s taxation of the QTIP trust in the estate unconstitutional? 4) Is the fact that an issue was raised before the Tax Court, but not expressly decided by that agency, sufficient to permit review of that issue on appeal from the agency ruling?

Elliot Dackman, et al. v. Daquantay Robinson, et al. – Case No. 55, September Term, 2018 (Unreported COSA Opinion (Woodward, J.))

Issues – Torts – 1) Did CSA, in upholding the admission of the testimony of an expert witness, fail to follow the appropriate standards elucidated in Lewin Realty III, Inc. v. Brooks (138 Md. App. 244 (2001) aff’d. 378 Md. 70 (2003)) and Sugarman v. Liles (460 Md. 396 (2018))? 2) Does it violate due process and fairness, and is it a miscarriage of justice, for a trial judge to sua sponte amend the scheduling order solely to the benefit of one party, and extend that party’s expert designation deadline by over a year, while simultaneously denying Petitioner’s request to amend their own expert deadline, extend the discovery deadline, and postpone the trial to alleviate the prejudice?

In re: H.R., E.R., & J.R. – Case No. 55, September Term, 2018 (Reported COSA Opinion (D. Eyler, J.))

Issues – Family Law – 1) Are the Department’s Permanency Planning Reports, which contain hearsay and double hearsay, inadmissible under the public records exception to the rule against hearsay? 2) Was CSA’s conclusion that the reports were admissible, based on its conclusion that they were an appropriate subject for judicial notice, in error? 3) Can the juvenile court admit documents for their non-hearsay purpose of forming the basis of an expert’s opinion and then, independently, rely on the evidence to support its basis for terminating a parent’s rights?

MAS Associates, LLC, et al. v. Harry S. Korotki – Case No. 57, September Term, 2018 (Unreported COSA Opinion (Reed, J.))

Issue – Corporations & Associations – Did the trial court misinterpret and misapply the Revised Uniform Partnership Act, in conflict with the LLC Act, by creating a partnership among three non-member employees of a longstanding LLC after their attempts to negotiate an amendment to the LLC’s 2004 Operating Agreement with its members failed?

Diane Steele v. Diamond Farm Homes Corp. – Case No. 59, September Term, 2018 (Certiorari to Circuit Court)

Issues – Corporations & Associations – 1) Was Petitioner’s defense to a suit for HOA dues, that she did not owe dues for the amounts of increases imposed without the supermajority required under the Declaration of Covenants, invalid due to ultra vires or laches? 2) Did the trial court err and abuse its discretion with an award of attorney fees against Petitioner, since Respondent submitted no affidavit, lost in district court, and the principal recovered was less than one third of the awarded attorney fees?

Wallace & Gale Asbestos Settlement Trust v. William Edward Busch, Jr., et ux. – Case No. 58, September Term, 2018 (Reported COSA Opinion (Berger, J.))

Issues – Torts – 1) May asbestos exposure to a specific defendant’s product be inferred from the defendant’s substantial presence in the facility? 2) Should juries be told that other defendants have been dismissed from the case when the complaints against them are admitted in evidence as admissions by the plaintiff?

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