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I usually do not write about legal issues that do not relate to personal injury cases.  But Maryland’s red flag law has gotten so much attention and there is SO MUCH incorrect information out there, I feel like writing a post about it. 

Reaction to the seemingly endless stream of mass shootings across the country has generated unprecedented political pressure for gun control laws. Last year, Maryland became one of a handful of states that responded to this pressure by enacting new laws aimed at curbing random gun violence.

Last September the Maryland legislature passed a new type of gun control law which is commonly known as a “red flag” law. Maryland’s red flag law was signed by Governor Hogan took effect on October 1, 2018. Maryland’s red flag law is one of the toughest in the nation and one of the most frequently invoked.

I love minor league baseball games.  I’ve been to a few Delmarva Shorebirds games.  It really is a fun environment.

One thing I really like?  Any kid that really wants a baseball is going to get one at the game one way or another.  The Frederick Keys, Bowie Baysox, and the Aberdeen Iron Birds (I’m told, I have not seen an Iron Birds game but the stadium is awesome).

There is an interesting lawsuit in Wicomico County involving Jared Breen, a little known former minor league prospect of the Baltimore Orioles.  He is suing the Delmarva Shorebirds and Wicomico County after his career was cut short by a collision with an unpadded wall. The Orioles drafted Breen in the 24th round of the 2013 Major League Baseball draft. After being drafted, Breen began his minor league career playing shortstop for the Delmarva Shorebirds.

Monsanto Roundup weed killer lawsuits are the biggest mass tort in the country.  Lawyers everywhere are looking for potential victims.  Our law firm is no exception.  Stunning verdicts and talk of a settlement in excess of $8 have poured even more gasoline on the fire.  What are these cases about and what can we expect moving forward?

The Crux of the Roundup Litigation

A key ingredient in Roundup, glyphosate, has been associated with several cancers, including non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, hairy cell leukemia, and multiple myeloma.

In Armacost v. Davis, the first appellate tort opinion in Maryland in 2019, the Maryland Court of Appeals was asked to examine whether a trial court’s instructions to the jury were inappropriate and prejudicial in a medical malpractice case alleging negligence after a four-level cervical discectomy and fusion surgery performed by the defendant left the victim with claims of permanent injury.   The Maryland high court ultimately held that:

1)    The trial court did not mislead the jury as to the applicable law by first giving them general negligence instructions before instructing jurors on the standard of care applicable to the defendant brain surgeon’s actions.

2)    The trial court did not abuse its discretion by telling jurors how much longer they would be required to deliberate after they had previously expressed concerns over the length of the trial.

After a serious accident or the loss of someone that you rely upon economically, the financial hardships can be overwhelming.  In even the best case scenario, justice is never immediate.  I’ve seen people suffer incredible economic losses Wallet with moneywhile they wait for justice, including losing their homes.

Some people file for bankruptcy.  What most victims and even personal injury lawyers in Maryland do not fully understand sometimes, your personal injury claim becomes the property of the bankruptcy estate, when a injury victim files for bankruptcy protection whether the claim is listed in the bankruptcy or not.   In my experience, the personal injury victim generally gets the claim back after the bankruptcy.  But as the victim’s lawyer you represent the victim, then the trustee, and then back to the victim again.  The whole thing is just an utter mess.

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scheduleScheduling depositions in car accident lawsuits usually is not a complex thing. You call the other side, you agree on dates, and you have your depositions. The key is cooperation. Rather than unilaterally serving a deposition notice, you just call opposing counsel and agree to the place, date, and time. There are rarely issues.

For some reason, and I’m not entirely sure why, scheduling depositions in medical malpractice cases always seems to be an ordeal. Common courtesies that I’m sure many Maryland malpractice lawyers accord each other in the rest of our lives sometimes go out the window. Sometimes, it seems like otherwise ethical lawyers have no qualms about making up excuses for why they or the deponents cannot attend a deposition that are not based in fact. Often, you can figure this out when you depose the witness. Continue reading

Another new Maryland lead paint decision

The Maryland Court of Special Appeals reversed a $5.1 million (reduced to $1.25 million by the cap) lead paint verdict in a 91 page opinion written by Judge Shirley M. Watts.

The first 58 pages of this opinion are facts. But there are two real issues: (1) did plaintiff’s expert, a pediatrician, have the necessary qualifications to render the opinions that the lead exposure at defendant’s property caused the brain injuries alleged in this case, and (2) did the trial court properly sanction the defendant and his lawyer for alleged willful discovery violations.baltimoreflag

I don’t care much about the latter issue because I’m just not a big fan of monetary sanctions against counsel. I’m real interested in sanctions like spoliation instructions and other sanctions that actually give a tactical advantage. But the retail value of the paper used demanding monetary sanctions is greater than the actual amount of sanctions against counsel that have been awarded and paid. The issue in this case is interesting – the opinion breaks down in painful detail – but it is ultimately as useful to me as my recollection of the Baltimore Orioles 1979 batting order. (I do, however, recommend reading the details about these sanctions for the entertainment value. I’m amazed that Judge Watts did not even comment in an off-hand way about the trial court’s findings of extreme discovery violations. I would not have the same discipline.)

So on to the real issue: the qualification of the expert. The court found that even though the pediatrician was a licensed doctor and all, he really was not qualified or even prepared to render an opinion in this case. He had limited experience in treating kids with lead paint poisoning, never evaluating or diagnosing children with lead exposure or even following the progress of kids with lead exposure. In fact, he did not even recall treating a child for lead poisoning. His qualifications, distilled down to their essence, appear to be that he is a pediatrician who keeps up with the medical literature. Continue reading

Our firm just got a huge 2-1 win in the Maryland Court of Special Appeals today in Buckley v. Brethren Mutual.

The plaintiff’s lawyer in this case, who later referred the case to us, settled the underlying tort claim against the at fault driver for $100,000. She had the client execute a general release that did not mention any exclusion for the underinsured motorist claim. Everyone agreed that the claim was worth more than the gavel$300,000 UM limits but Brethren Mutual – I would argue – really tried to hose their insured in a way that I don’t think the likes of State Farm, Allstate, and their brethren (get it? Brethren?) never would. The trial court granted Brethren’s motion for summary judgment. The Maryland Court of Special Appeals reversed.

I’ll try to break down the entire case later, hopefully tomorrow. Meanwhile congratulations to us, especially our client, Rod Gaston who handled the case, and John Bratt who wrote a great brief for us.

scooter

A fedora will no longer suffice.

Starting Monday, the ridiculous pass that mopeds and scooters in Maryland have been given on the most basic safety precautions will end. Moped and scooter drivers now must equip their death traps by wearing a helmet and some kind of eye protection. Scooter drivers must also register their vehicles and have a valid drivers’ license or a moped/scooter permit.

Maryland was one of the few remaining states that did not require a license, registration, and insurance for mopeds (or mo-peds? I can’t decide).

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