Articles Posted in Maryland Court of Appeals

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In this breach of contract case stemming from the failure to pay for labor and materials provided by a construction subcontractor (Petitioner) to a general contractor through six construction contracts, the Court of Appeals affirmed the judgments of the circuit court and the court of special appeals in favor of Respondents. The Court of Appeals held (1) where there has been an invocation of the Maryland Construction Trust Statute, there must be a showing that the statute applies to the contracts in dispute; (2) Md. Code Real Prop. 9-204(a) contains a requirement that the contracts be subject to the Maryland Little Miller Act or the Maryland Mechanics’ Lien Statute; and (3) Petitioner failed to demonstrate that the protections afforded by the Maryland Construction Trust Statute were applicable. View "C&B Construction, Inc. v. Dashiell" on Justia Law

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The award of summary judgment in favor of the general contractor against the subcontractor in this case based on a pay-if-paid clause was improper because the pay-if-paid clause did not apply to the issues in this case. Pay-if-paid clauses make the project owner’s payment of the general contractor a condition precedent of the general contractor’s obligation to pay the subcontractor. Thus, the pay-if-paid clause can relieve the general contractor of liability to the subcontractor even where the subcontractor has fully performed its part of the subcontract. Here, Subcontractor sued General Contractor for breach of contract relating to a construction project. The circuit court granted summary judgment to General Contractor, concluding that, under Virginia law, a pay-if-paid provision in the subcontract applied to the damages sought. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case, holding (1) the pay-if-paid clause did not necessarily apply to the costs at issue in this case; and (2) the other provision relied upon by the circuit court did not create a condition precedent for payment of subcontractors. View "Young Electrical Contractors, Inc. v. Dustin Construction, Inc." on Justia Law

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Petitioner entered into a consent order with the several Queen Anne's County officials regarding resolution of their disputes over Petitioner's proposed construction of a project in the county. The consent order terminated litigation in Kent Island I in the Anne Arundel County circuit court. Seeking invalidation of the consent order, Respondents filed suit in the Queen Anne's County circuit court (Kent Island II). On Petitioner's motion, the case was transferred to the Anne Arundel County circuit court, which granted summary judgment for Petitioner. The court of special appeals vacated the judgment, finding that venue was appropriate in the Queen Anne's County circuit court. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the circuit court for Queen Anne's County did not have jurisdiction to modify or revise the consent order, a final judgment, entered by the Anne Arundel County circuit court; and (2) moreover, the Anne Arundel County circuit court was not empowered to revise or modify the judgment entered in Kent Island I in a manner sought by Respondents, as none of Respondents were a party in Kent Island I, and therefore, they could not maintain an action seeking either circuit court to exercise revisory power over the judgment in Kent Island II. View "Kent Island, LLC v. DiNapoli" on Justia Law

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The owners of two properties leased them to developer-tenants for the purpose of building an apartment building on each. As construction was beginning, the landlords breached the leases by refusing to provide estoppel certificates and contesting the tenants' building permits. The landlords' breach prevented the tenants from obtaining financing, which ended the development project. The tenants sued for lost profits. Before trial, the circuit court ruled against the landlords on several motions, holding in part (1) the landlords could not introduce evidence of the 2008 crash in the real estate market to show that the tenants would not have made profits, and (2) the tenants could introduce evidence of the landlords' reasons for breaching, including communications with their former counsel. The jury awarded the tenants over $36 million in damages, holding the landlords jointly and severally liable. The court of special appeals held the landlords could not be held jointly and severally liable but otherwise affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) the trial court did nor err in excluding all evidence of post-breach market data in measuring damages; and (2) the landlord waived the attorney-client privilege as to communications relevant to the subject matter of the claim of bad faith. View "CR-RSC Tower I, LLC v. RSC Tower I, LLC" on Justia Law

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For some years, the Board of Education of Baltimore County belonged to a governmental group purchasing consortium, which competitively bid a roofing services contract on behalf of its members. The Board relied on that contact to fulfill its needs for roofing repair services. Appellant Building Materials Corporation of America, a nationwide manufacturer of roofing materials, questioned the Board's authority for that practice under the pertinent statutes. The circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of the Board. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that when viewed in the context of the entire education law and regulations promulgated under that law, the competitive bidding statute did not bar the Board from using its membership in an intergovernmental purchasing consortium for the procurement of roofing repair services. View "Bldg. Materials Corp. of Am. v. Bd. of Educ." on Justia Law

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After Leon Coleman failed to perform eight construction contracts for detached homes, he was convicted of eight counts of theft by deception and eight counts of failure to escrow under Deposits on New Homes Subtitle (Act). The court of special appeals reversed, holding that the Act did not apply and that there was insufficient evidence of intent to support the theft convictions. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) the evidence was insufficient to conclude that Coleman intentionally deprived buyers of their property, as required under the theft statute; and (2) the plain meaning of the Act indicated that it did not apply to Coleman. View "State v. Coleman" on Justia Law

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While making a delivery during the course of his employment, Appellant George Pool walked through a stream of running water that flowed across a parking lot. As a result, Appellant slipped and fell on black ice and suffered injuries. Appellant sued Defendants, the construction company that allegedly pumped the water into the parking lot and the owner of the parking lot, alleging negligence. Several additional defendants were subsequently added. The trial judge granted summary judgment in favor of the original defendants and the two defendants named in Appellant's amended complaint on the ground that Appellant had assumed the risk of his injury. Appellant appealed. The Court of Appeals (1) reversed summary judgment entered in favor of the original defendants because Appellant did not assume the risk of his injury as a matter of law; (2) affirmed the grant of summary judgment in favor of one later-named defendant and the dismissal in favor of the other later-named defendant; and (3) disavowed the reasoning related to assumption of the risk in Allen v. Marriott Worldwide Corp. View "Poole v. Coakley & Williams Constr., Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, an unlicensed subcontractor, filed a complaint against Defendants, licensed contractors, alleging that it was entitled to a judgment in the amount that Defendants agreed to pay for home improvement work that Plaintiff performed as a subcontractor for Defendants. The circuit court dismissed the complaint, finding that contracts made by unlicensed home improvement contractors or subcontractors were illegal. The court of appeals reversed and reinstated the complaint, holding that the Maryland Home Improvement Law, which regulates contracts between contractors and owners, did not bar Respondent from recovering on its subcontract with Petitioner. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Maryland Home Improvement Law did not render unenforceable a contract between a home improvement general contractor and an unlicensed subcontractor. View "Stalker Bros. v. Alcoa Concrete Masonry, Inc. " on Justia Law

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A landowner submitted a site development plan to the county planning board, proposing to construct a mixed-use condominium building. Joel Broida, who lived across the street from the landowner's parcel of land, filed a motion to deny approval of the site development plan. The planning board approved the plan. Broida appealed. A hearing examiner dismissed the appeal, holding that Broida lacked standing. Broida appealed. The board of appeals (Board) split evenly on the issue of Broida's standing and decided to re-vote at a later date. The landowner then filed a complaint for a declaratory judgment, declaring that the Board's split decision was final and required the appeal to be dismissed. The circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of the landowner. The court of special appeals reversed, holding that Broida had standing to appeal. The court therefore did not address whether there was a final Board decision. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding (1) there was no final administrative decision and, therefore, the landowner failed to exhaust its administrative remedies; and (2) because there was no final administrative decision, the lower courts erred in reaching the merits of the case, and the declaratory judgment action should have been dismissed. Remanded. View "Renaissance v. Broida" on Justia Law

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Petitioners, Douglas and Vanessa Wietzke, filed a four-count complaint against the Chesapeake Conference Association of Seventh-Day Adventists (the Church), alleging nuisance, trespass, and negligence in connection with the construction of a new parking lot by the Church. The Wietzkes claimed the lot was the cause of continued flooding of their home and requested damages and injunctive relief. The circuit court granted the Church's motion for judgment on the negligence claim then entered judgment in favor of the Church on the nuisance and trespass claims. The court of special appeals affirmed. The Court of Appeals granted certiorari to answer several questions, most of which related to the trial judge's denial of several of the Wietzkes' requested jury instructions. The Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) the trial court did not err in denying Wietzke's proposed jury instructions, (2) the model jury instructions requiring a finding of unreasonable conduct in a private nuisance action were a correct exposition of the law, and (3) the trial court erred in granting the Church's motion for judgment on the Wietzkes' negligence claim as the evidence could have supported a negligence claim. View "Wietzke v. Chesapeake Conference Ass'n" on Justia Law