Articles Posted in Maryland Court of Appeals

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgments of the circuit court and Court of Special Appeals that there were no errors of procedure or substantive law on the part of Respondents - the University of Maryland Baltimore Washington Medical Center (Hospital) and the Maryland Department of Health - and the administrative law judge (ALJ) in determining that Petitioner met the requirements for involuntary admission to the psychiatric unit of the Hospital. The Court held (1) the ALJ did not err in finding that Petitioner’s hearing on involuntary admission complied with the ten-day deadline for an involuntary admission hearing set forth in Md. Code Ann. Health-Gen. 10-632(b); and (2) there was substantial support in the record for the ALJ’s finding that Petitioner presented a danger to the life or safety of herself or of others at the time of the hearing. View "In re J.C.N." on Justia Law

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The process of involuntary admission of an individual begins with the initiation application for involuntary admission and ends upon a hearing officer’s decision whether to admit or release that individual. If, during the process, a physician applies the statutory criteria for involuntary admission and concludes, in good faith, that the individual no longer meets those criteria, the facility must release the individual. The physician’s decision is immune from civil liability and cannot be the basis of a jury verdict for medical malpractice. Brandon Mackey was taken to Bon Secours Hospital pursuant to an application for involuntary admission after he attempted to commit suicide. Dr. Leroy Bell treated Mackey. Two days before a scheduled hearing to determine whether Mackey should be admitted involuntarily or released, Dr. Bell authorized Mackey’s release. Thereafter, Mackey committed suicide. Plaintiff brought suit contending that Dr. Bell, and Bon Secours vicariously as his employer, were negligent in releasing Mackey. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Chance. The circuit court vacated the judgment based in part on its understanding of the immunity statute. The court of special appeals reversed. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that Dr. Bell’s decision to discharge Mackey, made in good faith and with reasonable grounds, was immune from liability. View "Bell v. Chance" on Justia Law

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At issue was whether the Attorney General has authority to request injunctive relief against a nursing facility pursuant to two different provisions of the Patient’s Bill of Rights, a comprehensive statutory scheme enacted to identify and protect individuals’ rights in Maryland nursing facilities. The State sought an injunction against Defendant, a nursing facility. The trial court concluded that the allegations in the State’s complaint, if true, would be in violation of the Patient’s Bill of Rights but that the Injunction Clause did not authorize the kind of broad injunctive relief the State sought and that the State lacked authority to sue for an injunction under the Enforcement Clause. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding (1) under Md. Code Ann. Health-Gen. 19-345.3(c), the Attorney General may bring suit on behalf of individual residents who have been subjected to, or away, imminent, unlawful involuntary discharges if at least one individual’s statutory rights have been violated, and a court may issue injunctive relief for violations of Md. Code Ann. Health-Gen. 19-345, 19-345.1 and 19-345.2; and (2) the Attorney General’s authority to prosecute violations of Md. Code Ann. Health-Gen. 19-344(c)(4)-(5) permits the Attorney General to seek an injunctive to enforce certain provisions related to the Medicaid application process. View "State v. Neiswanger Management Services, LLC" on Justia Law

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The trial court properly dismissed two of Petitioners’ counts against Respondent seeking damages for injuries one of the petitioners allegedly sustained while staying at one of Respondent’s facilities because these two counts alleged medical injuries within the Health Claims Act (HCA). Therefore, Petitioners were required to file those claims in the Health Care Alternative Dispute Resolute Office (ADR Office) as a condition precedent to their circuit court action. Petitioners’ remaining negligence count should survive because it did not allege a breach of professional standard of care such that it must be filed in the ADR Office. Petitioners’ counts sounding in contract, consumer protection, and loss of consortium also survived dismissal. View "Davis v. Frostburg Facility Operations, LLC" on Justia Law

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Alternative Medicine Maryland, LLC (AMM) sued the Natalie M. LaPrade Medical Cannabis Commission, its members, and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene after AMM applied for, but did not receive, pre-approval for a medical cannabis grower license. AMM sought a declaratory judgment and preliminary and permanent injunctive relief, arguing that the Commission failed to follow applicable law with respect to the requirement to consider racial and ethnic diversity of potential medical cannabis grower licensees and requested that the Commission be required to reconnect the pre-approval process. Relevant to this appeal, the circuit court denied a motion to intervene filed by medical cannabis growers that had received pre-approvals for medical cannabis grower licenses, a coalition and trade association that advocate for the use of medical cannabis, and patients who would potentially receive medical cannabis as treatment for illnesses. The Supreme Court held (1) the growers were entitled to intervention as of right and permissive intervention; but (2) the circuit court did not err in denying intervention as of right or permissive intervention as to the patients and the trade association petitioners. View "Doe v. Alternative Medicine Maryland, LLC" on Justia Law

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Petitioner had health care insurance as a member of the United Healthcare Select HMO (the HMO) when he visited a healthcare provider (GCM) for an x-ray of his knee. After Petitioner paid a bill he received from GCM for the x-ray exam he filed a complaint alleging that the bills GCM sent Petitioner were an illegal attempt to "balance bill" an HMO member in violation of State law and that the bills constituted an unfair and deceptive practice in violation of the Consumer Protection Act (the Act). The circuit court dismissed the complaint. The court of special appeals affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) the state HMO law prohibiting balance billing by health care providers as part of the legal foundation for the establishment of HMOs does not include a right of action by an HMO member against a healthcare provider for violation of that prohibition; but (2) an HMO member may bring an action under the Act against a healthcare provider who improperly bills the member in violation of the state HMO law in a way that also violates the prohibition against unfair or deceptive trade practices in the Act. View "Scull v. Groover, Christie, & Merritt, P.C." on Justia Law

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Dozens of Jacksonville, Maryland households (Respondents) brought suit against Exxon Mobil Corporation for damages from an underground gasoline leak from an Exxon-owned gasoline service station that leaked approximately 26,000 gallons into the underground aquifer and contaminated wells supplying water to a number of households. Respondents sought compensatory and punitive damages based on allegations of fraudulent concealment, strict liability, trespass, punitive nuisance, and negligence. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Exxon with respect to the fraudulent concealment and punitive damages claims but found in favor of Respondents as to all other claims for compensatory damages. Exxon appealed, challenging the sufficiency of the evidence supporting the awards for complete diminution of property value, damages for emotional distress, and damages for future medical monitoring costs. The court of special appeals affirmed in part and reversed in part, reducing the $147 million in damages awarded to Respondents by more than half. The Court of Appeals reversed the judgments in favor of Respondents for diminution in property value, emotional distress, and medical monitoring, holding that the evidence was insufficient to support to the awards for these claims. Remanded. View "Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Ford" on Justia Law

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In 2006, Exxon Mobil Corporation reported a leak of approximately 26,000 gallons of gasoline from the underground tanks at its fueling station in Jacksonville, Maryland. Hundreds of residents and business proprietors of Jacksonville (Appellees) subsequently filed suit against Exxon for damages stemming from the contamination of their water supply, other consequential effects, and alleged misrepresentations by Exxon. The jury awarded $496,210,570 in compensatory damages and $1,045,550,000 in punitive damages for Appellees. Exxon appealed both damages awards as to all recovering Appellees. The Court of Appeals (1) reversed the judgments in favor of all Appellees for fraud, emotional distress for fear of contracting cancer, medical monitoring, and emotional distress for fear of loss of property value, holding that Appellees did not prove by clear and convincing evidence Exxon's liability as to these claims; and (2) reversed the judgments for loss of use and enjoyment and for diminution in value of real property in favor of certain Appellees and affirmed as to the others. View "Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Albright" on Justia Law

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In Powell I, Plaintiff sued Doctor and others for medical malpractice. The circuit court granted summary judgment to Appellees in 2007. The appellate court held that the appropriate remedy was to dismiss the suit. The Supreme Court affirmed, vacated the grant of summary judgment, and remanded for dismissal. By the time the complaint was dismissed in 2011, the statute of limitations had expired on the merits of the substantive claims. In Powell II, Plaintiff filed a second, identical statement of claim in 2007. The circuit court granted Defendants' motion for summary judgment in 2008 under the doctrine of res judicata. In 2011, Plaintiff filed in Powell II a motion to reopen case and vacate judgment, arguing that the circuit court's reliance on the preclusive effect of the decision in Powell I was faulty. The circuit court denied the motion. The Supreme Court accepted certification and held (1) in Powell II, the judge did not err in granting summary judgment because, at the time, the doctrine of res judicata barred the maintenance of the litigation based on the 2007 grant of summary judgment in Powell I; and (2) the circuit court did not err in denying Plaintiff's motion to reopen case and vacate judgment. View "Powell v. Breslin" on Justia Law

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Respondent filed a medical action against Petitioner, a medical doctor. At issue before the Court of Appeals was whether a completed case information report, on which an election of a jury trial is noted and which is filed with the complaint, but not served on the opposing party, is a proper vehicle for demanding a jury trial. The court of special appeals held that it was and, therefore, reversed the judgment of the circuit court, which had reached the opposite result. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that a case information report form, being neither a "paper" nor a "pleading" and, in any event, having not been served on the opposing party, is neither a proper nor timely means of demanding a civil jury trial pursuant to Md. R. 2-325(a) and (b). View "Duckett v. Riley" on Justia Law