January 2021 Maryland Certiorari Grants

Yesterday, the Court of Appeals of Maryland granted certiorari in two civil cases, both involving unreported Court of Special Appeals opinions. The two cases, with links to the opinions under review, are below.

RDC Melanie Drive, LLC v. Mark R. Eppard, et al. – Case No. 48, September Term, 2020
(Unreported COSA Opinion by Judge Berger)

Issue – Real Property – 1) As a matter of first impression, is the Amended Declaration enforceable against Petitioner/Cross-Respondent where the Amended Declaration adds new restrictions and the language of the amendment clause of the Original Declaration does not expressly permit changes which add new restrictions? 2) Did the trial court and CSA err in ruling that the Amended Declaration does not add additional restrictions to Lot 6, where it plainly adds new restrictions prohibiting golf course uses and driving ranges? 3) Is the enforcement of the restrictions prohibiting any “noxious or offensive trade or activity” or any use that “may become an annoyance or nuisance,” or any amendment thereto, subject to review on an objective standard? 4) Have Respondent/Cross-Petitioners’ claims that the use of Lot 6 as a driving range will be “noxious or offensive” or cause “annoyance or nuisance” been fully litigated before the Board of Appeals and are those claims precluded by the doctrines of collateral estoppel and res judicata? If not, is Petitioner/Cross-Respondent entitled to a trial on those issues and claims? 5) Are the restrictions prohibiting any “noxious or offensive trade or activity” or any use that “may become an annoyance or nuisance to the neighborhood or other owners” too vague to be enforced? 6) Does the Original Declaration prohibit golf course uses, driving ranges, or other commercial activity under a uniform plan of development? 7) Is Petitioner/Cross-Respondent entitled to summary judgment on the Respondent/Cross-Petitioners’ claims arising from Article III, Paragraph 1, Subparagraph (m) of the Original Declaration and from the Zajic Declaration? 8) In this declaratory judgment action, were the trial court and CSA obliged to review each provision of the applicable covenants addressed by the parties in the pleadings and to declare the rights and obligations of the parties based upon the language of the instruments, read together in accordance with their express terms and the intent thereof as stated in the instruments? 9) Did the trial court and CSA err as a matter of law by failing to render an analysis whether the Original Declarations, by their terms, intended only a residential and agricultural use subdivision? 10) Did the trial court and CSA err by declaring that the issues arising under the Zajic Declaration were moot under the circumstances of this case? 11) Did the trial court and CSA err in their interpretation that the Original Declaration permits a boundary line adjustment with a non-subdivision lot for the purpose of permitting resort and golf course uses on land intended for only residential and agricultural use? 12) Did the trial court and CSA err as a matter of law by failing to address Respondent/Cross-Petitioners’ request for injunctive relief in light of their conclusion that the Amended Declaration is a valid prohibition of driving range development?

Town of Riverdale Park v. Mamoun K. Ashkar, et al. – Case No. 49, September Term, 2020
(Unreported COSA Opinion by Judge Harrell; dissent by Judge Shaw Geter)

Issues – State Government – 1) Did CSA err in reversing the trial court’s ruling that Respondent had failed to prove that Petitioner’s business decision was pretextual and not based on discrimination? 2) Did CSA err in directing that the case be remanded so that the jury’s verdict could be reinstated, where the trial court expressly ruled that Respondent had failed to prove damages in any non-speculative manner, and where the verdict is, in any event, subject to a statutory cap lower than the amount of the verdict?

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