Appeals

Appellate cases are cases where the result in the trial court is appealed to panels of judges whose job is to decide whether the trial court’s decisions were correct. The court that hears appeals from the trial court in Maryland is known as the Court of Special Appeals. In most cases, the highest court is known as the Supreme Court, but in Maryland, our highest court is the Court of Appeals.

We are frequently involved in appeals in cases where our client’s rights were negatively affected by a trial court judge or where an opponent has challenged rulings in our clients’ favor. We have significant experience handling appeals in the Court of Special Appeals and the Court of Appeals in Maryland, as well as appellate federal courts.

Below is a limited list of recent and select appellate cases we have successfully handled in the past.

Meyers v. Lamer, 743 F.3d 908 (4th Cir. 2014). The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland and concluded that the trial court erroneously dismissed our client’s case involving injuries after his involvement in a serious tractor-trailer truck collision. The Court held that the doctrine of assumption of the risk does not apply to construction road workers who are injured in the course of doing their job in the roadway.

Mummert v. Alizadeh, 435 Md. 207 (2013). In this Court of Appeals case, we created new Maryland law holding that the surviving children and spouses of victims of wrongful death may file a lawsuit anytime within three years after the death, even if the deceased failed to bring his or her own negligence claim while they were still alive.

University of Maryland Medical System Corporation v. Muti, 426 Md. 358 (2012). This case was heard by the Court of Special Appeals and the Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals reinstated our client’s right to pursue their medical malpractice case after the trial court had erroneously dismissed our client’s case on the basis that the deceased victim had an adopted child who was not included as a party to the lawsuit.

Tempel v. Murphy, 202 Md. App. 1 (2011). The Court of Special Appeals upheld our successful jury verdict on behalf of our clients, the family of a man who died of an untreated systemic bacterial infection. The Court also held that the amount of a pre-trial settlement with another party cannot be discovered by the defendant who goes to trial instead of settling.

Wantz v. Afzal, 197 Md. App. 675 (2011). The Court of Special Appeals reversed the trial court’s decision to dismiss a medical malpractice case and affirmed that our clients’ expert witness in neurosurgery, who had over 50 years of experience, was qualified to testify as an expert witness.

United States Life Insurance Company in the City of New York v. Wilson, 198 Md. App. 452 (2011). The Court of Special Appeals affirmed the granting of summary judgment in favor of our client. The Court held that our client, a surviving widow, was entitled to the proceeds of a life insurance policy that was reinstated by timely payment of an overdue premium.

Hashmi v. Bennett, 416 Md. 707 (2010). This Court of Appeals case created new Maryland law and established that, in order for a defendant who has lost at trial to have the verdict amount reduced on account of “joint tortfeasors,” the defendant must prove the negligence of the tortfeasors at or before trial and cannot ask the court to make a post-trial “judicial determination” of the liability of people who were never parties to a lawsuit, or joined as cross-defendants.

Hersl v. Fire & Police Employees’ Retirement System, 188 Md. App. 249 (2009). The Court of Special Appeals reversed the trial court’s decision to deny our firefighter client retirement benefits when he was injured in the line of duty. The Court held that the trial court abused its discretion in substituting its own judgment for the opinions of the firefighter’s physician experts.

Kerns v. U.S., 585 F.3d 187 (4th Cir. 2009). The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia reversed the trial court’s dismissal of our clients’ wrongful death automobile collision claims. The case was sent back to the U.S. District Court for discovery on the issue of whether a U.S. government employee was acting in the scope of her employment at the time she was involved in the collision.

Johns Hopkins Hospital v. Correia, 405 Md. 509 (2008). This seminal case by the Court of Appeals reaffirmed over 100 years of Maryland law holding that an elevator owner owes the highest duty of care to its passengers, including our client.

Maddox v. Stone, 174 Md.App. 489 (2007). This case involved a 7-year old child burned as a result of an electrical fire. Although one of Plaintiff’s expert witnesses gave a deposition and disclosed all opinions, the trial court excluded the expert because he submitted his report late. The trial court also refused to permit the substitution of an expert for the Plaintiff after the expert witness died. The Court of Special Appeals reversed the trial court, holding that the trial court abused its discretion is not permitting the Plaintiff’s expert witness to testify and the substitution of a new expert for the deceased expert.

Laboratory Corp. of America v. Hood, 395 Md. 608 (2006). The highest court in Maryland hled that it would violate Maryland’s strong public policy in favor of permitting plaintiffs to bring suit for wrongful birth if they applied North Carolina law to a case. In this case, a North Carolina laboratory misinterpreted a laboratory test, leading to the birth of a child with cystic fibrosis. The defendants wanted North Carolina law to apply, because it would have resulted in our clients’ case being dismissed. We successfully fought those attempts and the Court agreed that Maryland law should apply.

Frye v. Carter, 375 Md. 341 (2003). This case resulted in the Court of Appeals voiding the “unavoidable accident” jury instruction in negligence cases.

Figgie v. Tognocchi, 96 Md.App. 228 (1993). This case involved the death of our client in a “cherry-picker” type man lift. We successfully tried this case in the Baltimore City Circuit court and the jury awarded our clients $2.7 million. The defendants appealed, arguing that the case should have concluded in their favor based on their defense that our client assumed the risk of his injury. The Court of Special Appeals sitting en banc (all of the judges deciding the case together) upheld the jury verdict, stating that our client did not assume the risk simply by getting on the vehicle knowing another individual had been injured in the same lift.

Johnson v. Mayor & City Council of Baltimore, 472 U.S. 353 (1985). This was a case against the City for age discrimination as a result of the requirement that Baltimore City firefighters mandatorily retire at age 60. Our firm tried the case in the U.S. District Court and argued it on appeal in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. The case was ultimately affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Johnson v. Levine, 450 F. Supp. 648 (D.Md. 1978), affirmed, 588 F.2d 1378 (4th Cir. En Banc 1978). Our firm represented the class of inmates at the Maryland House of Correction at Jessup, challenging the conditions of confinement as being in violation of the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. Paul D. Bekman of our firm successfully tried the case in the U.S. District Court and that case was affirmed on appeal.

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