McLaughlin Opinion Provides Valuable Guidance After Final Judgment Rule Sinks Another Maryland Appeal
A recent foreclosure action in the Court of Special Appeals presented Judge Arthur with the opportunity to cleanly explain one of the more maddening—and anxiety-producing—rules of appellate practice, the Final Judgment Rule. See McLaughlin v. Ward, No. 1827, September Term 2017 (Jan. 30, 2019). The rule begins with a simple premise: one cannot appeal a trial court’s ruling until the court has entered a final judgment that resolves every claim in the case. See Md. Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 12-301. Yet, the rule has exceptions. And it is those exceptions that bedevil practitioners (and courts) as they grapple with proper application of the rule and try to avoid noting an appeal too early or—even worse—too late.
Today’s cert grants will bring a wide variety of issues before the Court of Appeals, including: the method for obtaining appellate review of an incarceration sentence in light of the Justice Reinvestment Act of 2016; the authority of the Workers’ Compensation Commission to revise an incorrectly-calculated award; and whether statutory relocation benefits should be extended to tenants vacating government-owned property.
Happy New Year from the Maryland Appellate Blog!
Three new writs of certiorari start off our 2019:
(I) In re Santos Nohe Lopez Perez – Order granting an emergency petition for writ of certiorari and ordering the case be remanded to allow the petitioner to apply for special immigrant status, “with haste” and before his impending 21st birthday later this week (the Daily Record’s Steve Lash gives further coverage of this case, including a quote from Perez’s attorney – the Blog’s own EIC, Steve Klepper);
(II) Ronald F. Moser, et al. v. Kristi Heffington, et al. (COSA Reported Opinion by Judge D. Eyler) – Civil Procedure – 1) Did CSA err when it vacated the trial court’s denial of Respondent’s motion to stay in a case where: A) Respondent initiated the civil action for defamation; B) during the pendency of the civil action, Respondent was criminally indicted for the conduct at issue in the civil suit, yet Respondent had fully participated in all aspects of discovery both prior to and after the indictment, which discovery included her own deposition; and C) on the eve of trial, and four months after the indictment, Respondent filed an 11th hour motion to stay the civil trial on the grounds that she intended to invoke her Fifth Amendment privilege not to testify at the civil trial? 2) Did Respondent waive her Fifth Amendment privilege in the civil action by testifying at her deposition and providing other discovery responses without invoking the privilege, after she was on notice that the police were investigating her for the conduct at issue? 3) Given that Respondent had already answered questions at her deposition concerning the conduct at issue, did Respondent fail to preserve for review the denial of a stay of the civil action where she failed to proffer the questions as to which she intended to invoke her right to silence – which was necessary to determine if she could validly exercise the privilege or had waived it? 4) Did CSA unnecessarily decide a Constitutional question, i.e. whether the trial court had failed to fully consider Respondent’s Fifth Amendment right by not granting a stay of the civil action, after it learned that Respondent had been convicted of the very conduct that formed the basis of the alleged defamation, which rendered moot her defamation claim?
(III) State of Maryland v. John Schlick (COSA Reported Opinion by Judge Raker) – Criminal Law – Does a court lose revisory power over a criminal sentence “after the expiration of five years from the date the sentence originally was imposed,” as Maryland Rule 4-345(e) states, or does the court indefinitely retain “fundamental jurisdiction” to revise a sentence, which it is an abuse of discretion not to consider exercising, as CSA held below?
Brynja McDivitt Booth, Booth, Booth, Cropper & Marriner (Easton)
Joyce Elizabeth Jones, Jones & Suh, LLC (Church Hill)
Carla Lynn Knight, Lynn Knight Law (Centreville)
Jane Chace Miller, Law Office of Jane Chace Miller (Chester)
These four individuals join Christopher F. Drummond, Judge Christopher B. Kehoe, and Judge Brett W. Wilson, who each applied in August of 2018. The Commission intends to meet on January 14, 2019 to review these applications.
One of the Court of Appeals’ more notable decisions from 2018 is Kennedy Krieger Institute, Inc. v. Partlow, 460 Md. 607 (2018), which analyzed the scope of a Maryland tort defendant’s duty of care. The Partlow court was asked whether medical researchers at Kennedy Krieger[i] owed a duty of care not only to participants in its medical research study on lead-paint abatement but also to a participant’s sibling, who was not part of the study. With compelling arguments from both sides, the court split 4-3, holding that the researchers owed a duty to the non-participating sibling.
As previously reported on the Maryland Appellate Blog, Judge Sally D. Adkins’s retirement left a vacancy on the Court of Appeals, for the First Appellate Judicial Circuit. In August, three submitted applications for the seat – Christopher F. Drummond, Judge Christopher B. Kehoe, and Judge Brett W. Wilson. But, according to the Maryland Courts website, “[t]his vacancy is being re-advertised for new applicants.”
**Correction: As originally posted, this blog post incorrectly stated that the Appellate Judicial Nominating Commission had nominated all three existing applicants. In fact, the Commission has yet to make any nominations for this vacancy. This correction has been made.
For direct updates on the Appellate Judicial Nominating Commission’s consideration of applications for this vacancy and others, see the Maryland Courts website.
Yesterday, the Court of Appeals granted review in five cases: `
Baltimore County, Maryland v. Michael Quinlan – Case No. 50, September Term, 2018
Issues – Workers’ Compensation – 1) Did the trial court err in denying Petitioner’s motion for summary judgment, given the lack of a clearly defined occupational disease as the basis for the claim and evidence that the conditions were shown to be prevalent in all occupations involving heavy physical labor not uniquely related to the work of a paramedic or EMT as an inherent and inseparable risk? 2) Did CSA err in finding that Respondent met the statutory requirements set forth in LE §9-502(d)(1) and that he had sufficiently established at trial that his condition resulted from an inherent hazard of his employment as a paramedic or EMT? 3) Should this Court review the decision below under the statutory requirements and existing case law, particularly Black and Decker Corporation v. Humbert, 189 Md.App. 171 (2009), which similarly ignores the legislative requirement that a disease is only occupational if it is “due to the nature of an employment in which the hazards of the occupational disease exist” (LE §9-502(d)(1)(i)), to provide clarification and guidance on the requirement for establishing a legally sufficient claim for occupational disease? Read More…
Taxpayer Standing Cases Pending Yet Again in the Court of Appeals: Herein, About Whose Interest Is It Anyways?
The Court of Appeals is poised once again to tackle the subject of standing in Maryland courts, particularly the doctrine of so-called “taxpayer standing.” Four relatively recent and lengthy decisions by the Court have already addressed the matter at length, including the related “property owner standing,” doctrine. Anne Arundel County v. Bell, 442 Md. 539, 113 A.3d 639 (2015); State Center, LLC v. Lexington Charles Ltd. P’ship, 438 Md. 451, 92 A.3d 400, 458 (2014); 120 West Fayette St., LLLP v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore, 426 Md. 14, 43 A.3d 355 (2012) (“Superblock III”); and 120 W. Fayette St., LLLP v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore, 407 Md. 253, 964 A.2d 662 (2009) (“Superblock I ”). Two new appeals raise issues showing the lack of clarity that remains regarding taxpayer standing in Maryland. Read More…
Two years ago, we awaited the appointment of a successor to the empty seat on the U.S. Supreme Court that resulted from the death of Justice Scalia. An early casualty of a tie votes occurred in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, No. 14-915. Many public employers and employees had their eyes on the case, which involved the California Teachers Association, because its outcome had the potential to alter the relationship between public employees and their union representatives that has existed since the 1970s. Read More…