Articles Posted in Uncategorized

Published on:

Ned Parent, a member of STSW’s Business Litigation Group, published an article in the September 2017 issue of the Maryland State Bar Association’s “Bar Bulletin” publication.  Mr. Parent’s article discussed the “undue influence” standard used in Caveat proceedings (the formal term used for proceedings challenging the validity of a Will).  Specifically, the article discussed the challenges in successfully proving undue influence in such proceedings, and suggested possible solutions to address those challenges.  A link to this article may be found here:

http://www.msba.org/Bar_Bulletin/2017/10_-_October/Estate_and_Trust__Fighting_the_Ticking_Clock__Undue_Influence_in_Caveat_Proceedings.aspx

Mr. Parent leads STSW’s fiduciary litigation practice, handling disputes related to estates, trusts, and guardianships.  If you have any questions about this article, or would like to discuss a potential matter related to an estates and trusts dispute, Mr. Parent may be reached at nparent@mdattorney.com or at (443) 909-7500.

Published on:

Businesses are obliged to ensure that their facilities comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act. But can anyone who believes he has found a violation somewhere sue to remedy it? The U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland recently considered what types of plaintiffs may initiate such litigation, and excluded out-of-state persons that merely “test” faraway properties for ADA compliance.

The plaintiff in Nanni v. Aberdeen Marketplace, Case 1:15-cv-02570-WMN (D. Md. May 4, 2016), was a Delaware resident with a disability who said that he traveled along Interstate 95 into Maryland to visit with family and friends and attend various events. He alleged that he had stopped at Aberdeen Marketplace up to four times to rest and take a bathroom break. During those visits, he contended, he encountered various barriers to accessing the stores and services, defects that he believed ran afoul of the ADA. Asserting an intention to patronize to the shopping center up to three times a year and also test the facility’s compliance with the ADA, Plaintiff sought declaratory and injunctive relief. Represented by Silverman|Thompson|Slutkin|White, Aberdeen Marketplace moved to dismiss the lawsuit.

First, a little background on “standing”: To be able to bring a lawsuit, a plaintiff has to demonstrate that he suffered an injury in fact – that is, an actual or imminent invasion of a legally protected interest that can be remedied by a judicial decision. When a plaintiff requests injunctive relief, he also has to show a “real and immediate threat” of being wronged in the future, a likelihood that is greater than a “mere possibility.” Applied in the context of Plaintiff’s lawsuit, he had to describe “specific concrete plans” to return to Aberdeen Marketplace and how he would be similarly injured during those future visits.

Published on:

Like many Eastern states, historically Maryland has not been a large producer of oil and gas. But that could change in the not so distant future. In the West, proponents of “fracking” are anxiously eying the new Hogan government to see what it will do while offshore, the Department of the Interior has announced that it will publish for public comment a draft proposed Five-Year Program for oil and gas leasing in the Mid-Atlantic. Development in either or both sectors could have a large impact on Maryland’s economy.
Continue reading →

Published on:

STSW lawyer Bill Sinclair recently convinced a Maryland state judge that he should strike an amended complaint that contained a RESPA claim against STSW’s client, Lakeview Title. The plaintiffs were home purchasers who originally brought suit in 2010 against Long & Foster, Creig Northrop, and various related entities and individuals for alleged fraud in the sale and purchase of their homes.
Continue reading →

Published on:

STSW lawyers Bill Sinclair and Anna Skelton recently convinced a New Jersey federal judge that he should compel arbitration of their suit, effectively dismissing a federal complaint. The plaintiff, Precision Funding Group, sued its competitor, National Fidelity Mortgage, for alleged interference with contracts and business opportunities (among other business torts). PFG based its complaint in large part on the actions of two former employees who left PFG to work for NFM. In addition to its suit against NFM, PFG initiated arbitrations against its former employees pursuant to a clause in their employment agreement, drafted by PFG, that required mandatory arbitration.
Continue reading →

Published on:

Generally speaking, a Maryland corporation provides protection to individuals from personal liability associated with debts of the corporate entity. When a plaintiff or creditor is able to go after an owner’s personal assets, it is commonly called “piercing the corporate veil”.

Maryland law is crystalline that the corporate entity will be disregarded only when necessary to prevent fraud or to enforce a paramount equity. The mere fact that all or almost all of the corporate stock is owned by one individual or a few individuals will not afford sufficient grounds for disregarding corporateness Continue reading →

Published on:

Simply put, an insurance agent has no general duty to advise its insureds, with regard to essentially anything after the issuance of the policy. In Maryland, as well as other jurisdictions, the basis for not holding agents to a standard of care stems from a fear that to do so would create a situation where the tort floodgates would open to allow claims against brokers whenever an incident surrounding the policy occurs. While the question of duty can become more complex when the agent is acting on behalf of the insured, as opposed to the insurance company, the question is not affected in a relevant way.

Regardless of the status of the agent, when viewed exclusively in the insurance context, once the policy is issued, the insured is responsible for noticing any problems with the policy and bringing them to the attention of the agent immediately. With regard to administration of the policy following issuance, the basis for not requiring a duty of care stems from a belief that such would require an agent to continuously monitor a clients assets and adjust coverage accordingly. Since agents are generally in a position where they must rely on the information given to them by the insured, imposing a duty of care is unreasonable.
Continue reading →

Published on:

On of the most common dispute between businesses involves a tort know as tortious Interference of contract. Maryland recognizes two types of tortious interference claims: “inducing the breach of an existing contract and, more broadly, maliciously or wrongfully interfering with economic relationships in the absence of a breach of contract.” Kaser v. Fin. Prot. Mktg., Inc., 376 Md. 621, 628 (2003).

The two claims share the same elements – intentional acts done with the unlawful or wrongful purpose to cause damage to plaintiff’s lawful business with actual damage resulting – and can arise only out of the relationship between three parties, the two parties to the contract and a separate interferer. The three-party relationship applies equally in the instance of a business relationship where no express contract exists; however, in such situations, the right of an individual to interfere is treated more broadly.
Continue reading →