No Contract – No Tort Claim – My Article in the August Edition of “Building Baltimore

Please see the August edition of Building Baltimore Magazine for my article on the Maryland Court of Appeals decision in Balfour Beatty Infrastructure, Inc. v. Rummel Klepper & Kalh, LLP.  The case established that the economic loss doctrine precludes claims for alleged negligent design by a contractor against a design professional where there is no contract between them.   Building Baltimore Magazine is a publication of Associated Builders & Contractors, Inc. – Baltimore.  You can also read the entire article here by clicking the “more” button. Read More »

The Law In Maryland Does Not Recognize A Scientifically Established Causal Connection Between Exposure To Conditions In Water Damaged Buildings and Human Illness

I frequently receive questions about illnesses related to exposure to microbial growth and other conditions in water damaged buildings, and whether such medical conditions can form the basis of a personal injury claim.  Molds, of course, are generally recognized as allergens that can trigger respiratory symptoms in certain individuals.  For that reason, mold in buildings is considered an environmental issue that requires proper remediation.  Moreover, mold damages building components if left unaddressed.  However, repairs needed to remediate a water damaged building, and proof of a causal connection between exposure to specific molds and a particular symptom in an individual, are very different matters.   In the case of Montgomery Mutual Insurance Co. v. Chesson, , 206 Md.App. 569 (2012), the Maryland Court of Special Appeals found “that there is a genuine controversy within the scientific community with regard to whether exposure to water damaged buildings causes human health effects.”  As a result of the Court’s determination that “there is no consensus in the relevant scientific community that exposure to mold causes” medical injury, the testimony of a physician that mold exposure had caused illness was deemed to be inadmissible. Read More »

Maryland General Assembly Rejects Legislation That Would Have Aided Condominium Councils and Unit Owners In Pursuing Building Defect Claims

Legislation introduced in the Maryland General Assembly that would have prevented developers from including provisions in condominium governing documents that limit the developer’s liability for construction defects failed to reach a floor vote during the 2016 session. Senate Bill 250 and House Bill 1170 proposed to prohibit provisions in the declaration, bylaws or rules and regulations that limit the ability of a council of unit owners to file suit on behalf of itself or the unit owners or enforce warranty claims. The proposed new law would also have precluded limits on the rights of condominium councils or individual unit owners to bring claims relating to an alleged failure of the developer to comply with building codes, county approved plans and specifications, product manufacturer’s installation instructions, and other construction industry standards. Proposed new Section 11-134.1 of the Maryland Condominium Act would have prohibited provisions designed to prevent the filing of a claim within the applicable period of limitations or prevent claims from accruing pursuant to the “discovery rule.” The new law would also have precluded provisions requiring a vote of the unit owners approving the initiation of a claim, unless such a requirement is adopted after the unit owners assume control of the community from the developer.

Maryland General Assembly Did Not Enact a Bill That Would Have Required Associations To Register With the State

A bill that would have required common ownership communities to register with the State did not come to a vote on the floor of the Maryland General Assembly during 2016 session.  House of Delegates Bill 1061 would have required common ownership communities — including residential condominiums, homeowner associations and cooperatives — to register each year with the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation.

Opening Day 2016: Remembering Frank Robinson’s Arrival In Baltimore 50 Years Ago

Here is link to my Opening Day op/ed in today’s Baltimore Sun:

  http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/oped/bs-ed-opening-day-20160403-story.html#nt=oft03a-1la1

The Failure of the Republican Establish To Practice Fiscal Conservatism

Here is a link to my most recent opinion/commentary that appeared in The Baltimore Sun on March 7, 2016:

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/oped/bs-ed-republican-establishment-20160307-story.html

Proposed Legislation in the Maryland General Assembly Would Require Common Ownership Communities To Register Annually with the State

Bill 1061 in the Maryland House of Delegates would require common ownership communities — including residential condominiums, homeowner associations and cooperatives — to register each year with the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation.  The community would be required to provide (1) the name, address and county in which it is located; (2) the number and type of units; (3) proof of registration with the county if required in that jurisdiction; (4) the name and contact information for each officer or member of the board of directors or other governing body, the property manager, and any attorney; (5) a statement as to fidelity insurance maintained; (6) a statement as to reserve studies and current reserve balances; (7) a statement as to grievance procedures; and (8) any other information that the Department may require.

Montgomery County Requires Association Board Members To Complete An On-Line Education Course

As of January 2, 2016, those who serve on the boards of condominiums, homeowner associations, and housing coops in Montgomery County, Maryland must now complete an education course on the responsibilities of serving on a board of directors.  The law charges the Montgomery County Commission on Common Ownership Communities with the responsibility for developing the curriculum.  The Commission has established an on-line course on its website at the following link:  http://www2.montgomerycountymd.gov/CCOC-Training.

Each condominium, HOA and coop in Montgomery County is required to certify to the Commission that each of its board members has completed the required training, along with providing an annual report that includes the name and address of each board member, the date each member completed the training, the number of vacancies on the board, and the length of time each vacancy existed.

It should be noted that failure to complete the training course will not disqualify a board member from continuing to serve.  However, if a condominium, HOA or coop board member does not complete the mandatory education, the Commission may take legal action to enforce the training requirement.  Also, a Commission dispute resolution panel that is reviewing a dispute between a homeowner and a community association may consider a board member’s failure to complete the training in deciding the dispute.

 

Maryland General Assembly Again Considers Legislation To Protect Condo Owners’ Rights of Action Against Developers

Legislation has again been introduced in the Maryland General Assembly to prevent developers from including provisions in condominium governing documents that limit the developer’s liability for construction defects. Senate Bill 250, introduced by Senator Delores G. Kelley, would prohibit provisions in the declaration, bylaws or rules and regulations that limit the ability of a council of unit owners to file suit on behalf of itself or the unit owners or enforce warranty claims. The proposed new law would also preclude limits on the rights of condominium councils or individual unit owners to bring claims relating to an alleged failure of the developer to comply with building codes, county approved plans and specifications, product manufacturer’s installation instructions, and other construction industry standards. Proposed new Section 11-134.1 of the Maryland Condominium Act would prohibit provisions designed to prevent the filing of a claim within the applicable period of limitations or prevent claims from accruing pursuant to the “discovery rule.” The new law would also preclude provisions requiring a vote of the unit owners approving the initiation of a claim, unless such a requirement is adopted after the unit owners assume control of the community from the developer. Read More »

Maryland Appellate Court Rules That A Construction Company Can Be Entitled To Coverage Under Its Subcontractor’s Policy

The Maryland Court of Special Appeals has held that a construction company is entitled to coverage under its subcontractor’s insurance policy as to claims that it was negligent in its supervision of the subcontractor and the work site.  In James G. Davis Construction Corp. v. Erie Insurance Exchange, No. 802, Sept. Term 2014, a construction company and its scaffolding subcontractor were both sued in a personal injury action following the collapse of scaffolding at a residential construction site.  In an opinion dated October 28, 2015,  the Court of Special Appeals reversed a lower court declaratory judgment ruling, and held that the subcontractor’s liability policy provided coverage for the construction company in response to the plaintiff’s claims that the construction company failed to exercise reasonable care in its control of the construction site, the construction of the scaffolding, and its general supervision of the project.