Articles Posted in Legal News

This is a rare post that does not involve a personal injury case. I’m writing this case because it has a real impact on how people view the civil justice system which has a real impact on my clients.

The 2018 NFC Championship

Even a casual football fan remembers the controversy surrounding this year’s NFC championship game between the New Orleans Saints and the Los Angeles Rams. The Saints were on the verge of sealing a victory in the closing minutes when the referees fail to call a blatant pass interference penalty on the Rams. I was watching the game with my family rooting for the Rams and I still thought the call was ridiculous.

Law DictionaryInsurance companies in Maryland are now required to disclose upon request from the victim or their personal injury attorney the amount of insurance coverage their client may have.  So you can find out from day one, how much coverage might be available to satisfy your client’s injury claim. This law went into effect on October 1, 2015.  If you are a Maryland personal injury lawyer, you’re probably in the top 1% of your colleagues in knowing of the existence of this law.  I think it is such a well kept secret, because I don’t believe any lobbying went into this effort.  No one is climbing over themselves to claim credit for it. Just the Maryland General Assembly doing their job.  Who knew?

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A new wrongful death lawsuit alleges Fast and Furious star, Paul Walker, survived the impact of the high speed car crash that cost him his life.  It alleges that hePorsche Carrera GT 2 could have gotten out of the car but for a defective design of his Porsche Carrera GT.  The suit claims that Walker could have avoided the fire except his seat belt “snapped Walker’s torso back with thousands of pounds of force, thereby breaking his ribs and pelvis,” which made an escape impossible.

That is one allegation.  The lawsuit also alleges the car should have had a stability system that prevents swerving.  Also, the side door was too close to the fuel line, and that the car had a history of control problems.  The claim concludes that the Porsche Carrera GT is a dangerous car that does not belong on the road.  It seems like a real reach.

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Bill Cosby has been in the news a little bit.  As you know, dozens of women have alleged that Bill Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted them. The claims date back to the 1960s, with the allegedbill-cosby-2-768 victims ranging from random women that Cosby encountered to other celebrities. A recent lawsuit even alleged that Cosby assaulted underage women. Obviously, some pretty serious allegations.

A few lawsuits have been filed already, but most of them allege defamation or some other cause of action – separate from sexual assault. Why? Because most of these claims allege conduct after the statute of limitations expired.  Of course, someone is going to try to end run the statute of limitations.  But as Americans are now seeing statutes of limitation are cruelly unforgiving, even when anyone’s sense of justice and fair play are pitted against it.

But what would a lawsuit against Bill Cosby even look like? Specifically, what would a lawsuit against Bill Cosby look like, if filed in the state of Maryland?  Sexual assault and rape are not their own torts – but they are crimes.  These torts may be brought forward and filed in a civil lawsuit for these crimes.

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I hate the New England Patriots. I started rooting against them the minute they started getting good in 2001.  While I hate Tom Brady as a byproduct, I have to admit that — notwithstanding Bradymaybe Bridget Moyahan — he is pretty much the epitome of what we want our great athletes to be.

Adding to my hatred of the Patriots, I’ve sued — and settled – a malpractice case against the Pats in which they took a score of ridiculous positions, including the position that the claim should be arbitrated by the CBA, a claim they first made years after the case was filed.  Their arrogance over the course of the case was pretty much what you would expect.  The idea of settlement was completely ridiculous up until the point where it wasn’t.  But I long admired their winning and, it goes without saying, the breadth and scope of their evil.

Over the years, one theme I have revisited on my blogs is the distorted perception people have in regards to our civil justice system’s administration of personal injury cases.  In my mind, there are two main distorters – maybe a word I made up – that mislead people: large jury verdicts and how the civil justice system treats famous people.  Prime example: Tom Brady’s Deflategate lawsuit which I really think underscores some of these distortions.

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2019 Update: We are #119.  Which is some progress.  We can do better and we will.

The U.S. News and World Report rankings came out today (this was written in 2015.).   It was not a good day for the University of Baltimore School of Law: ranked #135 among U.S. law schools.

Of course, this post is going to assume that U.S. News & World Report is relevant to anything.   When was the last time you paid a moments attention to this magazine that did not involve looking at school rankings?  The answer is probably 10 years ago.  But, it certainly is because people care about it.  But whether it is a reflection of quality is anyone’s guess.

What Happened?

I don’t know.  You have to appreciate that the University of Baltimore School of Law has been on a crazy roll in recent years.   After falling and falling, its ranking with U.S News had been soaring higher each year.   But the real kicker is the new building they opened last year.  The old UB was a rat hole.  We can say that now. It really was.  The new building is just stunning.  It has anything you could ever want to teach or to receive an education in, and do it in style.  Even Above the Law, which has snarky commentary on the color of the sky, had good things to say about the design of the building.

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PitbullOne of the most highly commented blog posts I have had here was when the Maryland Court of Appeals decided Tracey v. Solesky, one of the rare appellate opinions that seemed to make everyone mad.  Tracy decided to carve out a pit bull exception and make pit bull owners pretty much strictly liable.

Everything in this case was goofy.  The court even came back with an amended opinion – how often does that happen? – to say that mixed breeds are not strictly liable which, theoretically, would make the key to the case the tracing of the dog’s blood lines.

Pit bull lovers and owners pretty much demanded that the Internet be shut down.   Their passion – and their statistics – actually forced me to do something that is rare on the Internet: change my opinion in midstream.  Whoever said screaming at someone on the Internet can’t change hearts and minds?

This passion pushed the Maryland Senate last week to unanimously pass a bill that eliminated breed distinctions.  Which, is bad news for victims of pit bull attacks (and, let’s face it, plaintiffs’ lawyers).  The Senate bill throws a bone — literally no pun originally intended until after I wrote it — to victims by creating strict liability for canines who attack while running at large.  But, let’s be honest, that is not the majority of pit bull attacks.  An estimated 70% of dog bites occur on the owner’s property.

The one thing that struck me about the anti- Tracey opinion zealots is that they did not generally oppose strict liability on dogs.  There seemed to be some receptivity to the idea that the problem in dog bite cases is not bad dogs but irresponsible dog owners.

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Plaintiff should have used marijuana?

People get in car accidents and they get badly hurt.  So insurance defense lawyers end up making some crazy arguments.  But in  Glesby v. MacMillian, a Maryland car accident case, the defendant reached a new height of insanity: arguing that the plaintiff should have used marijuana to mitigate her damages.

(Okay, okay… this is not an actual Maryland case.  And, right, it is not even in the U.S.   It is Great Britain in British Columbia.  (That’s Canada? Oh.) Anyway, forgive me.  The story was just a lot more fun that way.  Sorry.)

How This “You Should Have Taken Marijuana” Argument Came to Be

Glesby involved a 28 year-0ld woman who got rear-ended.  Pretty common set of facts.  She racks up about $17,000 in bills.  (That’s Canadian money.  My sources tell me they are too proud to use our money so instead they using money with the Queen of England on it.  Perplexing.)

Okay, enough of the stand-up act which I’m not great at anyway.  The plaintiff files suit in the Supreme Court of British Columbia, which sounds fancy, but it is really just their trial court.  It is a bench trial.  Plaintiff claims continued discomfort in her neck, shoulder, and upper back after the crash.  The Defendant argues that the Plaintiff’s injuries would not have been as bad if she had taken medical marijuana.

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jurorsCan you strike a juror based on sexual preference?

This week, the 9th Circuit took this issue on.   SmithKline Beecham v. Abbott Laboratories is a case of two giant drug companies fighting each other over what I’m sure is already obscene profits involving the sale of an anti-HIV drug.  In the suit,  GlaxoSmithKline  accuses  Abbott Laboratories of antitrust, contract,  unfair trade practice (UTPA) claims, and instigating World War I by shooting the archduke.  The usual stuff.

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angryman1If you badmouth an out-of-state company on the Internet, are you subject to personal jurisdiction in the state where the company resides?

In Fertel v. Davidson, a federal court in Maryland was given this interesting question with an interesting set of facts.   A 52 year-old artist who was in a troubled marriage in California purchased a “Marriage Fitness Tele-Boot Camp” program for a Maryland company called MarriageMax.  The opinion suggests that this program costs $400.   It comes with a “if you are not satisfied for any reason, you can get your money back” type guarantee. Continue reading

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