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You’ve just lost your case in a Maryland trial court and want to appeal – how do you do it?  For the purpose of this article, we’ll assume your case is in a Maryland circuit court (different rules may apply if you’re in the district court).  We’ll also assume your case allows a direct appeal; most, but not all, cases are of this type. We’ll further assume you want to exercise your right of appeal to Maryland’s intermediate appellate court, called the Appellate Court of Maryland. In very limited cases, there may be a right of direct appeal to the Supreme Court of Maryland.  A litigant can also try to skip the intermediate appellate court and go straight to the Supreme Court, but that’s rare.  These two situations are beyond the scope of this article.

How to Appeal a Circuit Court Decision in Maryland

With those qualifications out of the way, we can get down to business.  Fortunately for lawyers and litigants, filing an appeal is relatively easy.  Maryland Rule 8-201 states that, subject to an exception not addressed here, “the only method of securing review by the Appellate Court is by the filing of a notice of appeal within the time prescribed in Rule 8-202.”  So, what’s a notice of appeal?  It’s a simple document that informs the lower court of a party’s intention to appeal.  Rule 8-201 states that “[i]t is sufficient that the notice be substantially in the following form”:

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When are emotional support and/or service animals allowed in rental housing in Maryland? 

Under Maryland law, landlords are required to allow tenants with disabilities to keep emotional support and/or service dog in the rental unit, with very limited exceptions.  Landlords may be able to inquire and request that documentation be provided by a tenant regarding the need for the requested reasonable accommodation for an emotional support and/or service animal, prior to granting such request.   

 

What is a service animal? 

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Silverman Thompson recently represented a contractor who was hired to renovate a large residential property in Baltimore County. The plaintiff, a subcontractor, filed a lawsuit against the client’s company and the client, individually, alleging that the company and the client individually breached a contract and that our client violated the Maryland Construction Trust Act and the Maryland Prompt Pay Act.  

Silverman Thompson moved to dismiss or in the alternative for summary judgment on all claims.  

Based on the evidence and legal arguments presented in our brief, the Plaintiff voluntarily dropped 3 of his 4 claims against our client, including those claims against the client in his personal capacity and the claims that could have potentially allowed the plaintiff to recover its attorneys’ fees and any enhanced damages. 

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How can you register a rental property in Baltimore City? Effective January 1, 2019, all non-owner-occupied dwelling units, regardless of whether it is a single-family or multi-family dwelling, must be licensed and registered in Baltimore City.

What are the steps to receive a rental license from the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD)?

  • The Property must be registered with DHCD.
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How do you remove a squatter in Maryland? When an empty residential unit or vacant buildings become occupied by a person other than an authorized tenant, they are often referred to as a squatter. Squatter law in Maryland does not allow you to remove the unauthorized person without utilizing the legal process.

What is a squatter?

 A squatter is person who has taken physical possession of real property that they do not own, and who has not signed a lease or paid rent for the property. If a person refuses to leave the request of the property owner, they are considered a squatter and may be removed through filing a Complaint for Wrongful Detainer in the District Courts of Maryland.

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What is the Corporate Transparency Act?

In 2021, Congress passed the Corporate Transparency Act (CTA) as part of the sprawling National Defense Authorization Act.[1] The law, which took effect January 1, 2024, “packs a significant regulatory punch, requiring most entities incorporated under State law to disclose personal stakeholder information to the Treasury Department’s criminal enforcement arm.”[2]  Entities covered by the law include, with some exceptions, corporations, limited liability companies, and similar entities created in the United States by filing documentation with the secretary of state or similar office, or formed under foreign law and registered to do business in the United States.[3]  Failure to report can result in both civil and criminal penalties.[4]

Case Ruling the Corporate Transparency Act Unconstitutional

On March 1, 2024, a federal judge in Alabama ruled that the CTA is unconstitutional. The lawsuit, brought by the National Small Business Association (“NSBA”) and one if its members, argued that the CTA exceeded Congress’s enumerated powers and violated the First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendments.[5] The Government defended the law’s constitutionality on various grounds, but the court sided with the challengers.

The court first rejected the Government’s argument that the disclosures required by the CTA were needed to protect vital national security interests and thus fell within Congress’ power over foreign affairs and national security. The court acknowledged the great deference entitled to Congress in these areas, but reasoned that corporations are “creatures of state law,” and Congress’ foreign affairs powers “do not extend to purely internal affairs, especially in an arena traditionally left to the States.”[6]

The court next addressed Congress’s power to enact the CTA under the Commerce Clause.  The law could not be upheld as a valid regulation of the channels and instrumentalities of interstate commerce, as the Government argued, because the CTA by its plain text “doesn’t regulate the channels and instrumentalities of commerce or prevent their use for a specific purpose.” The CTA simply mandates that covered entities report information to the Treasury Department without any reference to “commerce” or channels or instrumentalities of commerce.[7] The law also could not be upheld under Congress’ power to regulate intrastate activity having “substantial effects” on interstate commerce because “the CTA does not regulate commerce on its face, contain a jurisdictional hook, or serve as an essential part of a comprehensive regulatory scheme.”[8]

The court finally rejected Congress’s taxing power as a valid basis for the law. The Government argued that because the required information is necessary to ensure appropriate reporting of taxable income, and Treasury officers and employees have access to the information for tax purposes, the CTA was a necessary and proper exercise of Congress’s taxing powers.  But, as the court explained, the Government’s theory would allow Congress to “craft a constitutional law [by] simply impos[ing] a disclosure requirement and giv[ing] tax officials access to the information.”

Because the law could not be justified as “an exercise of Congress’s enumerated powers,” the court found it unnecessary to decide whether the CTA violates the First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendments.[9]

Future of the Corporate Transparency Act

The decision has been appealed and exempts only the plaintiffs in the case from the CTA’s reporting requirement. Those requirements thus remain in effect for other covered entities across the United States.

 

The business litigation group at Silverman Thompson offers free consultations at 800.385.2243. If you have any questions regarding the Corporate Transparency Act and your business, reach out to Bill Sinclair, at 410.385.9116.

 

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New Maryland Landlord-Tenant Law Effective October 1, 2023

Rental License Needed for ALL Eviction Cases

Pursuant to Senate Bill 100, effective October 1, 2023, if a county or municipality requires a rental license, a landlord MUST have a rental license to file any of the following actions:

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Employers must be aware of, and revise their employment-related documents to reflect, the recent changes to Maryland and federal law.  One of a Company’s most powerful way to deter future litigation is by ensuring that its agreements, handbooks, and policies are legally compliant.

Companies often face claims of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation by their employees.  As such, it is imperative that employers are cognizant of the Maryland legislature’s substantial expansion of anti-discrimination and harassment laws.  With the passage of SB 450, the Maryland legislature adopted a less stringent standard of determining harassment, allowing employees to establish that they have been the subject of harassment based on the “totality of the circumstances.” Additionally, Maryland has imposed greater requirements for employers to reasonably accommodate not only employees’ disabilities but also an applicants’ disabilities.  Finally, the Office of the Attorney General can now independently initiate investigations of federal and state civil rights violations and file a lawsuit on behalf of the employees in Maryland, making it even more essential that employers properly handle complaints of discrimination. 

Although Maryland has long disfavored the use of non-competition agreements, it has recently made non-compete and conflict of interest provisions unenforceable against employees earning less than 150% of the state’s applicable minimum wage.  The legislature has also taken great strides to provide paid time off for employees requiring medical leave for themselves or for those of eligible family members.  The Time to Care Act created a Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program (FAMLI), pursuant to which eligible employees would receive twelve weeks of paid family and medical leave, with the possibility of 12 additional weeks of paid parental leave (for a possible of 24 weeks of paid leave).  Under the FAMLI rules, contributions will be made by employees and employers with 15 or more employees, as well as self-employed individuals who opt-in to the program.  Employees who work for a company with less than 15 employees will make the full contributions themselves.  Contributions will commence on October 1, 2024, with benefits first becoming available as of January 1, 2026.

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New Maryland Landlord-Tenant Law Effective October 1, 2023

Notice Requirements for Rent Increases

Pursuant to House Bill 151, effective October 1, 2023, a landlord must notify a tenant in writing before increasing the tenant’s rent as follows:

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Calling Law Enforcement or Emergency Services No Longer Grounds for Termination

Pursuant to Senate Bill 214, which takes effect on October 1, 2023, Section 8-208 of the Real Property Article which governs prohibited lease provisions has been amended to prohibit a form of lease that limits the ability of a tenant to summons law enforcement or emergency services, and/or penalizes a tenant for summonsing law enforcement or emergency services.

This is particularly relevant in breach of lease cases as it will no longer be a sufficient basis for termination that law enforcement is called to a unit.

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