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.
The Circuit Court for Baltimore City has entered a significant money judgment against a condominium council of unit owners as a means of enforcing its prior order finding the condominium in contempt for failing to complete court ordered repairs. In a case in which I represented the unit owner, the Circuit Court had originally ordered the Harborview Condominium to undertake and complete, by the end of December 2013, certain specified repairs to the exterior common elements needed to make the building watertight. In July 2014, the Circuit Court held that both the failure to include certain specified items in the repair contract, and the failure to complete the repairs within the time ordered by the Court, amounted to willful contempt, and called for the imposition of sanctions. The Circuit Court further found that the case presented the “exceptional circumstances” required under Maryland law for the award of compensatory damages, consisting of monthly payments to the unit owner continuing until the repairs are completed. The Court also established certain construction deadlines to be met in order for the Condominium to avoid additional damage payments. These rulings were affirmed by the Maryland Court of Special Appeals in August 2015. In an order dated December 30, 2015, the Circuit Court directed that the unpaid monthly payments to the unit owner be entered as a money judgment. It further ordered that the total of monthly payments not yet due be accelerated and included in the money judgment. The total money judgment entered exceeds $600,000. (more…)
The Maryland Court of Special Appeals has upheld a ruling of the Circuit Court for Baltimore City finding a Condominium Council of Unit Owners in contempt of court for failing to make common element repairs within the time designated in the ruling of an arbitrations panel, and ordering that monthly payments to the displaced unit owner for alternative living expenses continue until the repairs are properly completed. I served as counsel for the unit owner. The appeal can be found entitled as 100 Harborview Drive Condominium Council of Unit Owners v. Penthouse 4C, LLC, No. 0901, Sept. Term 2014, and you can review the opinion by copying the following link: http://www.courts.state.md.us/appellate/unreportedopinions/2015/0901s14.pdf
By a vote of 140-0, the Maryland House of Delegates passed an amended version of HB1007, which, as discussed in my prior post, was intended to limit the fee charged by condominium councils of unit owners for providing required information in connection with the resale of a unit. Most significantly, the amended version limits the liability of a council of unit owners for errors and omissions in the content of the resale certificate to the amount of the fees paid for the certificate. It makes not distinction as to whether such errors or omissions are intentional. This is contrary to, and is seemingly in response to, a ruling of the Maryland Court of Appeals. In a unanimous opinion filed on April 30, 2012, the Court of Appeals, in the case of MRA Property Management, Inc., et al. v. Armstrong, established that provisions the Maryland Consumer Protection Act apply to the information contained in a condominium resale certificate, and a council of unit owners and property manager can be liable for unfair and deceptive trade practices if the information has a tendency to mislead the purchaser, even though they are not party to the sales contract, and even if they have otherwise complied with the condominium resale disclosure requirements contained in Section 11-135 of the Maryland Condominium Act. The bill passed by the House would abrogate this ruling, and limit the council’s liability to “the amount paid for the certificate.” This would leave defrauded purchasers with recourse only against a management company. (more…)
In a case in which my colleague, Jack Boyd, and I represented the unit owner, the Circuit Court for Baltimore City has held a high-rise condominium in contempt of a prior order of the Court to undertake and complete repairs to the exterior common elements needed to make the building watertight. During a three-day trial, the Court found that both the failure to include certain specified items in the repair contract, and the failure to complete the repairs within the time ordered by the Court, amounted to willful contempt, and called for the imposition of sanctions. The Court further found that the case presented the “exceptional circumstances” required under Maryland law for the award of compensatory damages as part of the sanction. The Court also established certain construction deadlines to be met in order for the Condominium to avoid additional damage payments. (more…)
The Maryland Court of Appeals has affirmed a decsion of the Court of Special Appeals ruling that certain expert testimony is not admissible to support medical clams arising from exposure to mold and other environmental byproducts of damp buildings. Such claims are often supported by a medical analysis known as “differential diagnosis” and sometimes referred to as “repetitive exposure protocol,” which as been used by physicians to attribute various medical symptoms to inhalation of mold in water-damaged buildings. Rather than demonstrating a specific exposure to a specific mold resulting in a specific reaction, differential diagnosis uses a process that “rules out” or “rules in” possible causes of symptoms a patient is experiencing to determine that their symptoms are related to exposure to mold. Differential diagnosis has been frequently used to show an association between exposure to mold in wet buildings and certain human health effects. In its opinion in the case of Montgomery Mutual Insurance Co. v. Chesson, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals held that this method is not sufficiently accepted in the scientific community so as to be used as a basis for medical testimony in mold cases. The Court of Special Appeals reversed a trial court ruling that found such medical testimony to be reliable and admissible. Maryland’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, has now affirmed the Court of Special Appeals decision. Chesson v. Montgomery Mutual Insurance Co., Case No. 97, Sept. Term 2012. (more…)