The DeCaro Doran Blog

The COVID Crisis and the Insurer

Posted: September 09, 2020 by Emily F. Belanger
A federal judge in the Western District of Missouri recently ruled in favor of four Missouri companies permitting their lawsuits to proceed. The companies’ lawsuits are seeking damages from their insurer for rejecting claims for COVID-related business losses.

Civil Litigation During the COVID-19 Emergency

Posted: May 12, 2020 by Jennifer A. King
The COVID-19 emergency has created significant uncertainty within the court system.  The operation of the judiciary varies by jurisdiction and there is no uniform approach towards tolling or suspension of any applicable statutory deadline or rule.  Further, as the pandemic is constantly evolving, the Courts are issuing new orders on regular basis.  The following is a general overview of the operations of the Courts in Maryland, the District of Columbia, and Virginia as it pertains to civil litigation.  For more specific information about any particular court in these jurisdiction or any additional questions, please contact one of our attorneys.

Liability Exposure to Businesses Amid COVID-19

Posted: May 06, 2020 by Lauren Rutkowski
Amid the Corona virus pandemic, employers and businesses are facing liability exposure like never before. In addition to the typical negligence claims, the pandemic is exposing businesses to employment issues including harassment, retaliation, and whistle blower type legal claims, and claims of OSHA violations associated with the public health crisis.  Businesses should be aware of the guidelines enacted to protect employees, customers, and the public in order to limit future law suits.

When Does the Statute of Limitations Accrue in an Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Claim?

Posted: July 30, 2019 by Michael W. McGraw
On June 4, 2019, the Court of Special Appeals published Shilling v. Nationwide Ins. Co., 241 Md. App. 261 (2019), a decision that reversed the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County’s holding that Margaret Shilling’s underinsured motorist claim was barred by limitations.

A Plaintiff is Entitled to One Satisfaction for her Injuries, even when the alleged prior satisfaction is a settlement, not a judgment

Posted: July 16, 2019 by Mark A. Kohl
Maryland’s courts have long-recognized that multiple tortfeasors can contribute to a plaintiff’s injuries, and that the plaintiff is entitled to only one satisfaction for her injuries.  For example, a driver injured in a car accident can recover (from the at-fault driver) for injuries arising from errors made by her treating doctors.

Commercial Landowners May Owe Neighbors a Duty of Care

Posted: June 28, 2019 by Lauren N. Rutkowski
In a claim for negligence, the existence of a legal duty is a question of law for a judge to decide. The existence of such a duty is dependent on the specific facts and circumstances of each claim. Maryland Court of Appeals recently held that a duty exists between commercial property owners when using their property in a common and not inherently dangerous manner.

4th Circuit Re-Affirms that Contributory Negligence is Issue for Jury, Not Judge

Posted: May 29, 2019 by Adam D. Perrelli
On an appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously held that where there is “room for difference of opinion” as to whether or not Plaintiffs are contributorily negligent, summary judgment is improper and contributory negligence is a question for the jury.

How a Defendant's Discovery Violations Can Waive the Right to Trial by Jury

Posted: April 30, 2019 by Matthew J. Gannett
The Maryland Constitution guarantees the rights of parties to a jury trial when the amount in controversy exceeds $15,000.  It is well-established that the right to a jury trial may be waived by failing to assert the right.  However, the Court of Special Appeals recently affirmed that a Defendant’s egregious discovery violations may lead to the surrender of the Defendant’s right to jury trial.

Cutting the Reptile Off at the Knees with a Protective Order

Posted: April 16, 2019 by Jason C. Greaves
A troubling and growing trend in the plaintiff’s bar is the use of the Reptile Theory of litigation, espoused by David Ball and Don Keenan in their step-by-step guide, REPTILE: The 2009 Manual of the Plaintiff’s Revolution.  The stated purpose of the Reptile is to spread “the tentacles of danger” to jurors by framing issues in terms of the maximum potential harm a defendant could have inflicted to the community, rather than the actual harm caused to the plaintiff.1

Does the Doctrine of Parent-Child Immunity Survive the Death of a Child?

Posted: March 29, 2019 by Michael W. McGraw
The Court of Appeals has agreed to hear the matter of Heidenberg v. Grier, No. 78, September Term 2018, a case tried in Howard County in which the mother of a minor child, Claudia Grier, sued the child’s father, Timothy Heidenberg, for the accidental death of their minor child, Michaelangelo Heidenberg.

Senate Bill would Increase Threshold for Demanding Jury Trial

Posted: March 15, 2019 by Mark A. Kohl
Any civil Defendant presently is entitled to demand a jury trial if they have been sued for more than $15,000. If the case is pending in District Court, it will be transferred to Circuit Court. Discovery in Circuit Court cases is longer, there are more tools (such as depositions, document production, and medical examinations) available, trials generally take days instead of hours, and the facts and amount of judgment (if any) are decided by jurors (rather than judges).

What's in a Name? McCormick & Company, Incorporated v. Primal Palate, LLC

Posted: January 30, 2019 by Erin H. Cancienne
This is the question that has arisen in a lawsuit filed by McCormick & Company, Incorporated against Primal Palate, LLC.  McCormick’s claim is that Primal Palate’s New Bae is infringing on the trademark of McCormick’s Old Bay.

Victims of Unlicensed Lenders Receive Benefit of Greater Statute of Limitations

Posted: January 14, 2019 by Adam D. Perrelli
In response to a certified question from United States District Court Judge George L. Russell, III, the Court of Special Appeals unanimously ruled that alleged victims of unlicensed lenders have a twelve (12) year statute of limitations in which to file suit after suffering injuries and damages, rather than the usual “blanket” three year statute of limitations prescribed by Maryland Courts and Judicial Proceedings §5-101.

When Can A Crime Victim Hold A Police Officer Liable For Failing To Protect Them?

Posted: December 19, 2018 by Gerald W. Ueckermann, Jr.
The Maryland Court of Special Appeals recently considered when a police officer can be held liable to a crime victim for failing to protect them.  The answer:  almost never.

When are Judgments Final: Amendment to Virginia Supreme Court Rule 1:1

Posted: November 15, 2018 by David D. Das
An amendment to Rule 1:1 of the Supreme Court of Virginia became effective on November 1, 2018. Rule 1:1 provides that final judgments, decrees and orders remain under the control of the trial court, and are subject to modification, for 21 days. Rule 1:1 coincides with Rule 1:2, which allows appeal of a partial final judgment, and Rule 5:9, which mandates noticing an appeal within 30 days of entry of any final judgment, decree or order.

A Plaintiff Asserting the 5th Amendment Privilege Against Self-Incrimination May Obtain a Stay of a Related Civil Action

Posted: November 01, 2018 by Mark A. Kohl
In Heffington v. Moser Maryland’s Court of Special Appeals addressed a novel issue – under what circumstances is a trial court required to grant a stay to a civil litigant due to an assertion of the right against self-incrimination.  Generally, jurors in a civil action are permitted to take note of a litigant’s refusal to testify when that litigant asserts his Fifth Amendment right not to testify. 


Posted: October 17, 2018 by
Due to unforeseen circumstances the Insurance Litigation Defense Seminar originally scheduled for October 30, 2018 has been postponed until Spring 2019.

Forum Defendant May Remove From Local State Court To Federal Court If They Remove Before Being Served

Posted: October 01, 2018 by Matthew J. Gannett
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, in the case of Encompass Ins. Co. v. Stone Mansion Rest., Inc., No. 17-1479, 2018 LEXIS 23576 (3rd Cir., Aug. 22, 2018), recently held that a defendant may remove a case from its home state court to federal court if they do so before the defendant has been properly served.

Medical Cannabis and Employment in Maryland: Looking for Clarity in the Haze

Posted: September 17, 2018 by Erin H. Cancienne
Now that Maryland, and several other states and jurisdictions have decriminalized cannabis for medical use, there is a new and unique employment issue to consider.  What could/should an employer do when an employee tests positive for cannabis?

Refusal To Comply With Insurer's Request For EUO Is Held A Material Breach Of The Policy

Posted: September 04, 2018 by Adam D. Perrelli
The Court of Special Appeals, in a case argued by DeCaro, Doran, Siciliano, Gallagher & DeBlasis, LLP Managing Partner Thomas L. Doran, upheld the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County’s ruling that an insured’s refusal to sit for an examination under oath (“EUO”) constituted a material breach under the policy, and thus that Mr. Dolan was not entitled to underinsured motorist (“UIM”) benefits under the policy.

Maryland High Court Recognizes That Arbitration Awards Can Be Vacated

Posted: August 15, 2018 by Gerald W. Ueckermann, Jr.
The Maryland Uniform Arbitration Act (MUAA) sets forth several grounds upon which a Circuit Court is empowered to vacate an arbitrator’s award.  Cts. & Jud. Proc. Art., § 3-224(b). These do not include the authority of a court to vacate an arbitrator’s award because the award manifestly disregards applicable law.

District of Columbia 2017 Jury Verdict Statistics

Posted: August 01, 2018 by Jennifer L. Rowlett
The Superior Court for the District of Columbia prepares compilations of data for jury trial verdicts in a variety of civil cases, including medical malpractice, slip-and-fall, and auto accident cases.  The 2017 totals have been released.

Two Different Methods Are Now Approved for Calculating Lost Income Awards in Maryland Worker’s Compensation Claims

Posted: July 02, 2018 by Mark A. Kohl
It would seem rational that an injured employee’s award for lost income should be calculated based on the average number of hours worked in the weeks prior to the accident.  However, in Richard Beavers Construction, Inc. v. Wagstaff the Court of Special Appeals approved of a different calculation.

To File or Not to File in the Maryland Health Care Alternative Dispute Resolution Office

Posted: June 15, 2018 by Emily F. Belanger
The recent Court of Appeals opinion in Davis v. Frostburg Facility Operations, LLC d/b/a Frostburg Village addressed the issue of whether claims for negligence and related claims have alleged a “medical injury” within the meaning of the Health Care Malpractice Claims Act (the “Act”) such that the claims would be subject to initial filing in the Maryland Health Care Alternative Dispute Resolution Office (“ADR Office”) prior to filing in a Circuit Court.

Maryland Court of Appeals Limits Deference to Plaintiff’s Choice of Venue

Posted: June 01, 2018 by Matthew J. Gannett
Maryland Rule 2-327(c) provides that a court may transfer a case to any other circuit court where venue is proper “if the transfer is for the convenience of the parties and witnesses and serves the interests of justice.”

Accrue? Arise? What’s the difference? Why does it matter?

Posted: May 15, 2018 by Erin H. Cancienne
In the case of Duffy v. CBS Corporation et al., the Court of Appeals of Maryland decided whether there was a difference between the words “accrue” and “arise”.  The difference vastly changed the outcome of the case.

Maryland High Court Limits Doctrine of Imputed Negligence

Posted: May 01, 2018 by Adam D. Perrelli
Under the doctrine of imputed negligence, the negligence of one individual may be imputed to another who was otherwise without fault. Applying this doctrine to motor vehicle torts can impute the negligence of a permissive driver of a vehicle to the owner of that vehicle if the driver operates the vehicle negligently while the owner is a passenger.

New Maryland Sick Leave Law

Posted: April 16, 2018 by Emily F. Belanger
Maryland’s 90-day legislative session has come to an end and a new sick leave law was enacted.

Employers with employees whose primary work location is in Maryland are required to provide earned sick and safe leave, regardless of where the employer is located.

Virginia Senate Bill 545 Takes Effect on July 1, 2018

Posted: April 02, 2018 by Jennifer L. Rowlett
On April 6, 2018, Virginia’s Governor signed a Senate Bill into law that prohibits insurance companies and other third party entities from having contractual relationships with court reporting agencies.

Spoliation: Is Bad Faith Required for an "Adverse-Inference" Instruction?

Posted: March 15, 2018 by David D. Das
In Emerald Point, LLC v. Hawkins (December, 2017), the Virginia Supreme Court was faced with the following question: Can a trial court properly give a spoliation instruction to the jury, permitting an adverse inference where there was no “bad faith” associated with the loss of the evidence.

Enhanced Uninsured and Under-Insured Coverage in Maryland

Posted: March 01, 2018 by Mark A. Kohl
A recently-enacted statute substantially changes the law regarding under-insured motorist claims in Maryland.  If a policy was sold, issued or delivered prior to July 1, 2018, an under-insured motorist carrier’s exposure was limited to the limits of its policy minus the limits of the tortfeasor’s policy (absent the operation of a worker’s compensation award or payment to the Plaintiff to maintain subrogation rights against the tortfeasor).

Corporation or Limited Liability Company: A Difference That Matters When It Comes To Diversity Jurisdiction

Posted: February 15, 2018 by Gerald W. Ueckermann, Jr.
Corporations and limited liability companies (LLC’s) are business organizations that share many of the same characteristics.  There are, however, important differences.  One difference involves when federal diversity jurisdiction exists in lawsuits in which they are parties.

Intentional Torts Do Not Always Justify Punitive Damages

Posted: February 01, 2018 by Matthew J. Gannett
It has long been the law in Maryland that in order to justify an award of punitive damages in a non-intentional tort, a Plaintiff must establish by clear and convincing evidence that the Defendant acted with actual malice, which is defined as “evil motive, intent to injure, ill will, or fraud.”

Maryland High Court Upholds Transfer of Venue

Posted: December 15, 2017 by Gerald W. Ueckermann, Jr.
Recently, Maryland’s highest court, in a 4-to-3 decision, upheld a Baltimore City judge’s order transferring a case to Talbot County.

Contract Provisions Shortening the Statute of Limitations Are Enforceable . . . Sometimes

Posted: November 20, 2017 by Matthew J. Gannett
Generally, the statute of limitations for a contract claim is three years.  However, the Maryland Court of Appeals recently found that contract provisions shortening limitations periods are enforceable, but not strictly enforceable.

The Exceptions to Maryland's Statute of Repose Apply Beyond Asbestos-Related Cases

Posted: November 01, 2017 by Margaret E. Vetter
The Court of Special Appeals recently considered the question of whether the exceptions to Maryland’s statute of repose apply beyond asbestos-related cases. The statute provides in part that no cause of action for personal injury or death accrues if caused by the defective and unsafe condition of an improvement to real property more than 20 years after the improvement first becomes available for its intended use.

Judith Woolridge v. Laurr en Abrishami, et al. No. 744, September Term, 2016: Contributory Negligence Defense Not Waived Even If Not Reasserted By Defendant In Discovery Or Pretrial Statement

Posted: October 15, 2017 by Karen M. Wagner
After a motor vehicle accident, Plaintiff brought suit in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County against the Defendant for negligence and against the Defendant’s mother for negligent entrustment. The driver Defendant was operating a motor vehicle owned by her mother when she allegedly struck Plaintiff as Plaintiff attempted to cross the street.

UIM/UM Carriers: No Duty to Settle Prior to Judgment

Posted: October 01, 2017 by David D. Das
It has been well settled in Virginia that the obligation of an underinsured/uninsured motorist insurer arises only if and after it is determined that their insured is “legally entitled to recover damages from the owner or operator of an uninsured motor vehicle.

An Expert Need Not Be A Specialist

Posted: September 15, 2017 by Erin H. Cancienne
Parties fight over the admissibility of expert opinions for various reasons.  Recently, in Levtias v. Christian, No. 58, September Term 2016 (July 11, 2017), the Court of Appeals considered whether a pediatrician’s testimony on lead poisoning causation was admissible.

Stacking UIM Policies in DC

Posted: September 01, 2017 by Mark A. Kohl
On August 31, 2017 the District of Columbia Court of Appeals reversed the ruling of a Superior Court judge which held that an insured could “stack” (or aggregate the limits) of multiple underinsured motorist policies.

Cautionary Tale Regarding the Quirks of Virginia's Nonsuit Statute

Posted: August 15, 2017 by Jennifer L. Rowlett
The Circuit Court for the City of Roanoke highlighted another noteworthy quirk regarding the application of the Virginia Nonsuit Statute in Eakin v. James A. Dent, Administrator of the Estate of Jeanette E. Saunders, Deceased.  In Eakin, the Court granted the Defendant’s Plea in Bar for untimely filing and dismissed the case with prejudice.

No-Fault or No Thank You?: DC's PIP Laws

Posted: August 01, 2017 by Adam D. Perrelli
For many motorists injured in traffic accidents, Personal Injury Protection (“PIP”) provisions in their own motor vehicle insurance policies can lessen the blow of unexpected medical bills or time missed from work.

Enhanced Underinsurance Motor Vehicle Coverage May Be Coming to Maryland

Posted: July 13, 2017 by Erin H. Cancienne
Underinsured motorist coverage provides protection when you're in an accident with an at-fault driver whose liability limits are too low to cover the damage or medical expenses.  When underinsurance occurs, then your policy would reimburse you up until the underinsurance policy limits.

Joint and Several Liability and One Satisfaction Rule

Posted: February 21, 2017 by Karen. M Wagner
So, you are a Co-Defendant in a case and a verdict was just returned in favor of Plaintiff and against all Defendants jointly and severally. What does that mean for you?

Virginia Non-Suit Statute Extends Statute of Limitations Even Where the Defendant is Misnamed in the First Lawsuit

Posted: January 12, 2017 by Gerald W. Ueckermann, Jr.
Virginia law provides that a plaintiff has a right to voluntarily non-suit (dismiss) a lawsuit one time, and that the plaintiff then can file a second lawsuit within six months of the non-suit even though the statute of limitations would otherwise have expired.

But can a plaintiff who has misnamed the defendant in the first suit proceed against a correctly-named defendant in a second suit?  The Virginia Supreme Court recently held that in the case of Richmond v. Volk that they could.

Adults Who Provide alcohol to Underage Drinkers in Maryland Can be Held Civilly Liable for the Consequences

Posted: December 27, 2016 by Peggy E. Vetter
The Court of Appeals recently held that adults who provide alcohol to underage drinkers can be held civilly liable for any harm or death that results as a consequence. This marks the first time Maryland’s highest court has recognized what is known as “social host liability.”

Choice of a Few Words Make a Major Difference in Contracts

Posted: August 29, 2016 by Erin H. Cancienne
In the case of Larry Klayman v. Judicial Watch, Inc., the United States District Court for the District of Columbia had to carefully consider a specific provision in a contract between Larry Klayman and Judicial Watch, Inc. 

A Reminder About the Changes to Virginia Underinsured Motorist Coverage

Posted: August 29, 2016 by Jennifer L. rowlett
On July 1, 2015, the Virginia legislature made a big change to the functionality of the underinsured motorist statute, which applies to policies issued or renewed on January 1, 2016 or later.  To fully understand the changes, it is helpful to compare the two.

Admitting Evidence of the Lack of Insurance to Prove Liability is Legal Error

Posted: May 17, 2016 by Ellen E. Chang
In Perry v. Asphalt & Concrete Services, Inc., the Court of Appeals of Maryland concluded that the admission of testimony regarding a defendant’s lack of liability insurance at the time of an accident was a legal error. 

Maryland Senate Passes S.B. 302

Posted: March 09, 2016 by Mark A. Kohl
In the 1993 case of Komornik v. Sparks, the Court of Appeals ruled that punitive damages cannot be recovered when an intoxicated motorist caused a motor vehicle accident.  On February 17, 2016, the Maryland Senate passed S.B. 302, which would eviscerate the holding of the Komornik case.

Maryland's Economic Loss Rule Affirmed by Maryland Court of Special Appeals

Posted: March 02, 2016 by Steven R. Migdal
In the recent case of Balfour Beatty Infrastructure v Rummel Klepper & Kahl, No. 496, September Term 2014, decided on January 28, 2016, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals affirmed the principle known as the “economic loss rule” in Maryland.

It's a Snow Emergency. Now what?

Posted: February 05, 2016 by Erin H. Cancienne
During winter months in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia, residents cannot help but notice the “Emergency Snow Route” signs and the news reports of snow emergencies.  However, many do not know what snow emergencies really mean.  What are residents required to do in a snow emergency and what is the penalty for failing to take those actions?

The Applicability of the Doctrine of Forum Non Conveniens in the District of Columbia

Posted: January 05, 2016 by Emily F. Belanger
In Garcia v. AA Roofing Company, LLC, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals was faced with the issue of whether the Superior Court erred in dismissing the Plaintiff’s action without prejudice on the grounds of forum non conveniens.

The Value of a Checked Box

Posted: January 04, 2016 by Kira E. Zuber
The recently issued opinion of Lisy Corp. v. McCormick & Co., Inc., No. 8, Sept. Term, 2010 (filed Nov. 23 2015) is a warning to all attorneys seeking a jury trial: a checked box is a checked box, and nothing more.

The Supreme Court of Virginia Holds that Failing to Anticipate Appellate Decision on an Unsettled Area of Law is Not Legal Malpractice

Posted: November 17, 2015 by Abby V. Uzupis
In Shevlin Smith v. McLaughlin, the Supreme Court of Virginia held that an attorney’s failure to anticipate an appellate ruling on an unsettled legal issue did not amount to legal malpractice.

Maryland Court Considers Visitation Rights of Same-Sex Couples

Posted: October 29, 2015 by Gerald W. Ueckermann, Jr.
The Maryland Court of Special Appeals recently entered into what it described as the “unchartered Maryland waters” surrounding the child visitation and custody rights of same-sex spouses.  In Conover v. Conover (decided August 26, 2015), the court considered a same-sex spouse’s claim for visitation with a child born to her spouse prior to their marriage.

Revisions to D.C. Superior Court Rules for Civil Procedure

Posted: October 21, 2015 by Erin H. Cancienne
D.C. promulgated new superior court rules for civil procedure.  These rules took effect on October 12, 2015 and will govern all proceedings filed after that date, as well as all proceedings already pending, to the extent it is fair and practicable.  A complete copy of a redline version of all of the changes can be found here

Many of the changes are minor changes that have no real impact on case handling.  However, three of the rules changed should be noted by all who have cases in the District of Columbia.

Rescuers Entering the Danger Zone May Recover for Damages for Mental Distress in the District of Columbia

Posted: September 02, 2015 by Jennifer A. King
In Destefano v. Children’s National Medical Center, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals , as a matter of first impression, adopted the “rescue doctrine” and held that a plaintiff making a rescue attempt may recover damages for mental distress.

Defendant’s General Knowledge of a Dangerous Condition is held to be Sufficient to Deny Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment in a Slip and Fall Action.

Posted: August 25, 2015 by Emily F. Belanger
In the case of Schneider v. Ed’s Marine Superstore, Inc., No. SAG-14-1035 (D. Md. July 17, 2015), the Court was faced with determining whether a Plaintiff’s evidence rose above the level of mere speculation.  Plaintiff, who was attending a boat show, boarded a display boat and while boarding slipped and fell.

Virginia Makes New and Important Changes to its Underinsured Motorist Statute

Posted: August 03, 2015 by Abby V. Uzupis
On July 1, 2015, new legislation regulating underinsured motorist (“UIM”) insurance in the Commonwealth went into effect, marshaling in big changes for UIM and liability carriers alike when it comes to defending and settling auto accident litigation.

No Free Bite for Dog Owners in the District of Columbia

Posted: July 17, 2015 by Cynthia M. Weisz
A number of states impose strict liability upon owners of dangerous dogs or dogs that have a propensity for viciousness.  These states impose liability only if it can be demonstrated that the owner has knowledge of a dog’s vicious propensities.  In the District of Columbia, an owner’s liability is not strict, but rather based upon an owner’s negligence in the care, training, management, and control of the dog.  An owner’s lack of knowledge of his or hers dog’s dangerous propensities is not a defense, therefore, an owner does not get one free bite.

Hey! Can I Borrow Your Car?

Posted: July 06, 2015 by Erin Hebert Cancienne
If you loan your car to friends or family, then you probably have heard this question before.  However, do you know your responsibility if your friend or family member gets into an accident.  The answer may surprise you.

Threats on the Internet: The Supreme Court Makes Criminal Prosecutions More Difficult

Posted: June 17, 2015 by Gerald W. Ueckermann, Jr.
Federal law makes it a crime to transmit a communication that contains a threat to injure another person.  But what evidence is needed to prove that a defendant made a threat for which he or she can be prosecuted criminally?  That question was recently considered by the Supreme Court of the United States in Elonis v. United States, a case involving alleged threats that were posted on a Facebook page.

District of Columbia Amends the Workers' Compensation Act in Instances Where Third Parties are Liable

Posted: June 02, 2015 by Jennifer R. Rowlett
Recently, the District of Columbia’s Workers’ Compensation Act received a noteworthy amendment.

Reversal of Entry of Judgment in Favor of the Defendant by Reasoning that Trial Court’s Decision to Limit its Ruling to the Evidence Presented by the Plaintiff was Error

Posted: April 30, 2015 by Emily F. Belanger
In the case of Sullivan v. AboveNet Communications, Inc., the District of Columbia Court of Appeals was tasked with deciding whether the evidence presented at Trial was sufficient to withstand the Defendant’s Motion for Judgment, concluding that the totality of the evidence including the evidence put on the record by the Defendants, as opposed to solely the evidence presented in Plaintiff’s case-in-chief, warranted reversal of the Trial Court’s decision to grant Defendant’s Motion for Judgment.

Five Important Things to Know About Med Pay in Virginia – Quick Tips For Insureds and Insurers.

Posted: April 06, 2015 by Abby V. Uzupis
Medical Expense Benefits coverage – also known as “Med Pay” coverage – under Virginia law can be confusing for insureds and insurers alike.  Here are five simple, but important things, to know about medical expense benefit coverage in Virginia.

Court Trashes Junk Email Case

Posted: April 01, 2015 by James S. Liskow
In Walton v. Network Solutions, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals held that an advertiser who sent unsolicited email correspondence to email accounts did not violate the Maryland Commercial Electronic Mail Act or the Maryland Consumer Protection Act.

Admitting Social Media Evidence at Trial

Posted: March 02, 2015 by Mark A. Kohl
Maryland’s appellate courts last addressed the topic of social media evidence in Griffin v. State, a 2011 Court of Appeals decision.  Recently, The Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit clarified how statements made in social media may be properly authenticated and admitted. Read more...

Maryland Court Considers Damages to Injury for a Pet

Posted: February 12, 2015 by Gerald W. Ueckermann, Jr.
What damages can a dog owner recover if their pet is tortiously injured?  That question was recently considered by Maryland's intermediate appellate court in Brooks v. Jenkins. Read more...

You Can't Talk About Insurance in Court!...Or Can You?

Posted: January 30, 2015 by Erin Hebert Cancienne
Maryland Rule of Evidence 5-411 allows evidence of liability insurance to be used for other purposes, such as proof of agency, ownership or control, or bias or prejudice of a witness.  Often evidence of liability insurance is admitted when the existence of insurance itself is at issue.  For example, if a driver is suing her own insurance company for uninsured motorist benefits, or for first party coverage, such as Personal Injury Protection (PIP).  In those cases, a fact finder would need to know that there is an insurance contract to determine the terms of that contract and responsibility of the parties.  The amount of coverage may still be inadmissible however. - See more at:!-or-can-yo#sthash.b1yif17l.dpuf
The Maryland Rules of Evidence generally prohibit any mention of a person having or not having liability insurance for the purpose of proving whether that person acted negligently or wrongfully.  But can liability insurance ever be referenced in court? Read more...

Nonsuits in Virginia – The Virginia Supreme Court Gives Litigants a Wake-Up Call

Posted: January 15, 2015 by Jennifer L. Rowlett
In Temple v. Mary Washington Hospital, et al., the Virginia Supreme Court held, once again, that they take a very literal view when interpreting court orders.  In doing so, they reminded Virginia attorneys about the importance of preserving appeal rights. Read more...

Payment of a Traffic Citation – Is it Admissible as Evidence in a Civil Lawsuit?

Posted: January 02, 2015 by Jennifer A. King
In civil proceedings arising out of motor vehicle accidents, plaintiffs’ attorneys often ask whether a defendant was issued a traffic citation for the accident.  Because most people simply pay the fine, the plaintiffs’ attorneys want to use that as evidence of liability for the accident.  However, the more relevant question is whether the defendant pled guilty to a traffic violation. Read more...

Statutory Immunity of Medical Providers Relating to Involuntary Admissions

Posted: December 15, 2014 by Emily F. Belanger
In the case of Williams, et al. v. Peninsula Regional Medical Center, et al., the Court of Appeals of Maryland was tasked with deciding whether hospitals and health care providers enjoy statutory immunity against a wrongful death and survivorship action alleging negligence in the decision to release rather than involuntarily admit a young man, who was suffering from suicidal ideation and auditory and visual hallucinations, to the hospital. Read more...

D.C. Council Considers Bill to Eliminate “Contributory Negligence” For Cyclists

Posted: December 01, 2014 by Abby V. Uzupis
Earlier this year, members of the D.C. Council introduced a bill that would exempt cyclists from the “contributory negligence” standard that is applied to all other plaintiffs in D.C. auto accident cases.  If the bill is passed, a cyclist would not be prevented from recovering when struck by a motor vehicle even if a jury were to find that the cyclist contributed, in any way, to the cause of the accident. Read more...

A Manufacturer Has No Duty with Respect to Replacement Parts That It Neither Manufactured nor Placed into the Stream of Commerce

Posted: November 14, 2014 by James S. Liskow
In May v. Air & Liquid Sys. Corp., et. al., the Maryland Court of Special Appeals has revisited the issue as to whether a manufacturer can be held liable for injuries caused by replacement parts it neither manufactured nor placed into the stream of commerce. Read more...

The Expansion of the District of Columbia’s Immunity Under the Public Policy Doctrine

Posted: October 31, 2014 by Mark A. Kohl
As interpreted in the District of Columbia, the Public Policy Doctrine shields the District and its employees from liability for actions taken in performance of a public service. In Allen v. District of Columbia, the Court of Appeals holds that the Public Policy Doctrine extends to the District’s EMTs. Read more...

Maryland Appeals Court Reduces Damages Award

Posted: October 15, 2014 by Gerald W. Ueckermann, Jr.
Maryland Appeals Court finds that damages awarded against police officers for constitutional and common law claims are duplicative and reduces the award. Read more...

DC Finally Joins the Majority of Jurisdictions by Adopting the "Economic Loss Doctrine"

Posted: October 01, 2014 by Cynthia M. Weisz
In the case of Jose A. Aguilar, et. al v. Rp MRP Washington Harbour, LLC., et. al., the D.C. Court of Appeals adopted the economic loss doctrine, barring recovery for solely economic losses stemming from alleged negligence. Read More...

Jury Verdict Statistics in the District of Columbia for the First Half of 2014

Posted: September 15, 2014 by Jennifer L. Rowlett
The Superior Court of the District of Columbia prepares compilations of data for jury trial verdicts in a variety of civil cases, including medical malpractice, slip-and-fall, and auto accident cases. Click here to see what the recent release of the first half of 2014 shows...


Mix & Match: Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage and Other Available Insurance

Posted: September 03, 2014 by Jennifer A. King
The lawyers at DeCaro Doran get many questions concerning Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage.  There are many twists and turns in this confusing insurance policy provision.

UPDATE to "My Dog Isn't Vicious, I Can Prove It"

Posted: September 03, 2014 by Jennifer A. King
The blog post of March 4 discussed Maryland Senate Bill 247.  This bill has now been passed by the House of Delegates and approved by Governor O'Malley. 

Workers' Compensation and the Covered Employee Reexamined

Posted: August 19, 2014 by Emily F. Belanger
An alleged employer’s argument that a claimant was not entitled to benefits because the claimant was an independent contractor, and not a covered employee, led the Court of Appeals of Maryland to reexamine the level of control exercised over the claimant in Elms v. Renewal By Andersen, to determine who really is a covered employee.

Household Exclusions: Will Your Family’s Injuries Be Covered?

Posted: August 01, 2014 by Abby V. Uzupis

Jim and his family live in Arkansas, but have decided to take a trip to the Eastern Shore of Maryland for their family vacation.  While driving back home, Jim is looking at vacation pictures on his cell phone and fails to see that the car in front of him has come to a stop. Jim rear-ends the car, causing injuries to Jim and his family.  After all the initial “dust” has settled, Jim decides that he wants to make a claim for both his and his family’s injuries under his liability insurance within his auto policy. Click here to read more about Jim's dealings with "Household Exclusions."

Bringing Your Work Home With You: Is There Insurance Coverage If You Defame Your Business Competitors?

Posted: July 15, 2014 by James S. Liskow
The Maryland Court of Appeals has opined on many denial of coverage questions arising from various exclusions in homeowner’s insurance policies.  Recently, the Court was presented for the first time with a denial of coverage in a case involving a homeowner’s policy under the “business pursuits” exclusion.

The Assault on Caps on Non-Economic Damages for Medical Malpractice Cases Continues

Posted: July 01, 2014 by Mark A. Kohl
Florida is now the eighth state to strike down (on constitutional grounds) its medical malpractice cap on non-economic damages.  Where does Maryland stand?

Trespassers Can't Recover Damages For Their Injuries, Unless...

Posted: June 16, 2014 by Gerald W. Ueckermann, Jr.
One of the fundamental principles of Maryland premises liability law is that a property owner owes no affirmative duty to protect those trespassing on their property from injury.  However, under some circumstances that principle has changed.

Still No “Dram Shop” Liability in Maryland

Posted: June 09, 2014 by Abby V. Uzupis
In the wake of the Maryland Court of Appeals’ refusal to impose “dram shop” liability on establishments that serve alcohol, several Maryland state senators sponsored Senate Bill 206 that would permit establishments to be held liable for selling alcohol to persons under the influence who then injure others while driving drunk.

Update: Proposed Maryland Legislation on Non-Economic Damages Dies in Committee

Posted: June 09, 2014 by Abby V. Uzupis
As previously reported, the Maryland General Assembly was considering House Bills 930 and 1009, which would alter the amount of non-economic damages a plaintiff could recover for pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment and/or companionship, and other intangible injuries.

Decisions. Decisions. Which Maryland Court Best Suits My Case?

Posted: May 28, 2014 by Erin Hebert Cancienne
There are two types of trial courts in Maryland: District Court and Circuit Court. Depending on your case, you could be forced into one court or the other. However, there are times when both courts could have jurisdiction. This is known as concurrent jurisdiction. When there is concurrent jurisdiction, how do you decide which court is better for you as a party?

RECEIVE A TRAFFIC TICKET IN VIRGINIA? Simply Prepaying the Fine Could Be Your SECOND Mistake

Posted: May 14, 2014 by Jennifer L. Rowlett
Did you know that prepaying your ticket before the court appearance is entering a guilty plea to the traffic charge?  Or that the guilty plea can be admissible in a civil case against you arising out of the same occurrence - that you are admitting negligence in the civil case?  No? Then by all means, read on!

Liability Disputes and Maryland’s Under-Insured Motorist Statute

Posted: May 06, 2014 by Mark A. Kohl
Virtually every auto policy includes under-insured motorist (UIM) coverage. When there is an accident and the person at fault (the “tortfeasor”) does not have sufficient insurance to cover the plaintiff’s damages, the plaintiff can turn to his/her own insurance company for under-insured motorist benefits.  So long as the plaintiff’s UIM coverage exceeds the amount of the tortfeasor’s liability insurance, a claim can be made under this coverage to bridge the gap between the tortfeasor’s limits of liability coverage and the plaintiff’s actual damages.  

Death Taxes: Will There be Anything Left for Your Heirs?

Posted: April 24, 2014 by Jennifer A. King
The Maryland Senate recently approved House Bill 739 which would recouple Maryland’s Estate Tax with that of the federal government.  If the bill is signed by Governor O’Malley, the Maryland Estate Tax exemption will gradually increase.  In 2015 it would increase to $1,500,000; $2 million in 2016; $3 million in 2017; $4 million in 2018; and in 2019 it would be coupled with the federal Estate Tax.

IPSE DIXIT: Do You Really Need to Ask a Question?

Posted: April 23, 2014 by Alan R. Siciliano
After thirty-seven years I have come to the conclusion that attorneys need not feel compelled to ask questions just because they are attorneys.  Too many times after a very thorough examination of a party I have seen a young buck ask the same questions all over again because the original questions did not comport with his deposition outline.  All that is accomplished by this less than brilliant tactic is providing an opportunity for the deponent to change or fine tune the previous answers.

Breaching the Privacy of Jury Deliberations: Jurors Conducting Online Research

Posted: April 15, 2014 by Emily F. Belanger
Does online research by a juror warrant a new trial?  Not in the case of Cooch V S&D River Island, LLC, et al.

Update: Maryland House Judiciary Committee Conducts Hearing on Non-economic Damages Bills

Posted: April 01, 2014 by Abby V. Uzupis
On March 5, 2014, the Maryland House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on House Bills 930 and 1009 to hear testimony for and against a change in non-economic damages caps.  Many different groups - ranging from insurance companies, hospitals, plaintiff and defense lawyers, and accident victims - attended the hearing to the persuade the delegates to either increase or decrease the caps for non-economic damages.

IPSE DIXIT: Partially True Tales from the Litigation Trenches

Posted: March 19, 2014 by Jennifer L. Rowlett
The Very True Tale of the Courtroom Cowboy

Enforceability of an Oral Settlement Agreement

Posted: March 18, 2014 by Emily F. Belanger
Is an oral agreement to settle a claim enforceable?  Yes.  In the case of Clark v. Elza, the Maryland Court of Appeals took a look at the enforceability of oral settlement agreements

Maryland Court of Appeals Sticks With “Limited Voir Dire”

Posted: March 18, 2014 by Abby V. Uzupis
On February 21, 2014 the Court of Appeals in Pearson v. State declined to abandon the doctrine of “limited voir dire” in favor of “intelligent use voir dire,” which is followed by an overwhelming majority of jurisdictions in the United States.

My Dog Isn't Vicious, I Can Prove It

Posted: March 04, 2014 by Jennifer A. King
The Maryland Senate recently passed Senate Bill 247 which would overturn Tracey v. Solesky, a 2012 decision of Maryland’s highest court imposing strict liability for owners of pit bulls.

Maryland to Triple or Reduce Non-Economic Damages? Two Bills with Competing Purposes

Posted: March 03, 2014 by Erin Hebert Cancienne
There are two important House Bills in this legislative session that could affect recovery of non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases.  Non-economic damages are damages that are not associated with a specific expense.  For example, pain and suffering are two of the categories of non-economic damages.  While the bills both affect non-economic damages, the purposes are at odds with each other.

Fourth Circuit Defines "Nominal Party" in Cases Removed from State Court to Federal Court

Posted: February 24, 2014 by Jennifer L. Rowlett
To remove a case from State court to Federal court, all defendants must join in or consent to the removal with the exception of those defendants deemed to be “nominal parties.” Although many other federal circuit courts of appeal have defined what it means to be a “nominal party,” the Fourth Circuit recently defined it for the first time in Hartford Fire Ins. Co. v. Harleysville Mut. Ins. Co.

Maryland Appeals Court Considers Personal Injury Claims Brought By Illegal Aliens

Posted: February 05, 2014 by Gerald W. Ueckermann, Jr.
What effect does a plaintiff’s unlawful immigration status have on his or her personal injury claim? That question was recently addressed by the Maryland Court of Special Appeals in Ayala v. Lee (decided December 18, 2013). The court in that case found that, under certain circumstances, evidence of a plaintiff’s unauthorized immigration status is relevant and admissible to determine: (1) the appropriate measure of economic damages; and (2) the credibility of the plaintiff.

Restaurant Held Liable for Shooting Death of Two Patrons

Posted: February 05, 2014 by Abby V. Uzupis
On January 13, 2014, the Court of Special Appeals for Maryland affirmed a jury verdict holding Uno Restaurant Holdings Corp. liable for failing to protect two patrons from a fatal shooting that took place at an Uno Chicago Grill in Largo. The $2.3 million verdict in favor of the plaintiff-patrons was overturned in 2012 after the judge concluded that the evidence presented at trial did not support the jury’s finding that the fatal shooting was both foreseeable and preventable.


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