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Reported Opinions

John B. Robins, IV, appeared on the brief and argued the following cases before the Court of Appeals of Maryland, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland and the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit:

 

Maddox v. Cohn, 424 Md. 379, 36 A.3d 426 (2012)

Following mortgage foreclosure sale of residential home, mortgagor filed exception to report of sale, objecting to proposed ratification of sale on grounds that auction had been improper because trustees had required any successful purchaser to pay a $295 attorney fee for review of settlement documents, a fee not provided for in the mortgage documents or authorized by statute or court rule. The Circuit Court, Wicomico County, Kathleen L. Beckstead, J., entered order ratifying sale. Mortgagor appealed. The Court of Special Appeals, 199 Md.App. 63, 20 A.3d 153, affirmed. Mortgagor filed a petition for certiorari.   The Court of Appeals, Dale R. Cathell (Retired, specially assigned), J., held that it was an abuse of discretion for trustees to include a demand for the additional legal fees.  Judgment of Court of Special Appeals reversed; cause remanded.

 

Ocean Petroleum, Co. v. Yanek, 416 Md. 74, 5 A.3d 683 (2010)

Commercial tenant brought action for declaratory judgment construing phrase “the fair market value of the land only” as it appeared in lease's option to purchase. The Circuit Court, Worcester County, Alfred T. Truitt, Jr., J., entered declaratory judgment. Tenant appealed, and the Court of Appeals, on its own initiative, issued a writ of certiorari.  The Court of Appeals, Barbera, J., affirmed the judgment and held that (1) request for declaratory judgment was ripe for adjudication and (2) phrase meant the fair market value of the land unencumbered by the lease.

 

In re French, 499 F.3d 345 (4th Cir. 2007)

Creditor filed adversary complaint seeking denial of Chapter 7 debtor's discharge on the basis that debtor allegedly had knowingly made false oaths in connection with his bankruptcy petition and had failed to keep and preserve adequate financial records.  Following transfer of the case, the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Maryland, James F. Schneider, J., granted creditor's motion for summary judgment, and debtor appealed. The District Court, Richard D. Bennett, J., 338 B.R. 668, affirmed, and debtor appealed.  The Court of Appeals, King, Circuit Judge, held that (1) a genuine issue of material fact existed as to whether debtor made false statements in his bankruptcy proceeding with an intent to defraud; (2) the bankruptcy court made credibility determinations which were not appropriate in a court's assessment of a motion for summary judgment; (3) addressing an issue of apparent first impression for the court, to comply with the Bankruptcy Code's recordkeeping requirements, a Chapter 7 debtor need not maintain perfect records, but must preserve sufficient records to enable the court and the parties to reasonably ascertain an accurate picture of debtor's financial affairs; and (4) a genuine issue of material fact existed as to whether the records disclosed by debtor would permit the parties to reasonably ascertain his financial condition.  Vacated and remanded.

 

Banks v. Pusey, 393 Md. 688, 904 A.2d 448 (2006)

Son who had lived on farm as a minor brought action against farm's current owners claiming prescriptive easement for right-of-way across farm. The Circuit Court, Worcester County, Theodore R. Eschenburg, J., entered judgment for son. Farm owners appealed, and the Court of Special Appeals affirmed.  Farm owners petitioned for writ of certiorari.  The Court of Appeals granted certiorari, and the Court, Cathell, J., reversed and remanded the case with instructions, holding that: (1) use of lane was presumed permissive such that son did not have a prescriptive easement to use lane and (2) use of lane by son's third-party invitees was consistent with son's permissive use and thus did not constitute an adverse use.

 

State v. Garnett, 384 Md. 466, 863 A.2d 1007 (2004)

Defendant was not found guilty of malicious destruction of property but was not criminally responsible due to a mental disorder, and she was ordered to pay restitution for property damage to police cars. After defendant filed for bankruptcy, the State filed a writ of garnishment of wages against defendant, and defendant asserted the restitution judgment was discharged in bankruptcy. The Circuit Court, Wicomico County, Beckstead, J., found in favor of defendant and discharged the judgment. The State appealed.  After issuing a writ of certiorari, the Court of Appeals, Battaglia, J., held that (1) restitution ordered against defendant was a criminal penalty and (2) restitution was not dischargeable in bankruptcy.  Reversed and remanded.

 

MAMSI Life & Health Ins. Co. v. Callaway, 375 Md. 261, 825 A.2d 995 (2003)

Beneficiaries brought action against insurer to recover accidental death benefits for the insured's death from autoerotic asphyxiation. The Circuit Court, Wicomico County, D. William Simpson, J., entered summary judgment in favor of the insurer. Beneficiaries appealed. The Court of Special Appeals, 145 Md.App. 567, 806 A.2d 274, Hollander, J., reversed.  Insurer's petition for certiorari was granted.  The Court of Appeals, Harrell, J., held as a matter of first impression that the death was caused by “intentional self-injury” within the meaning of an exclusion of coverage for any loss caused by intentional self-injury. 

 

Maner v. Stephenson, 342 Md. 461, 677 A.2d 560 (1996)

Grandparents filed petition for visitation with their grandchildren, who lived with their mother and father in intact nuclear family. The Circuit Court, Wicomico County, Alfred T. Truitt, Jr., J., denied petition, and grandparents appealed. Prior to hearing by the Court of Special Appeals, the Court of Appeals issued writ of certiorari. The Court of Appeals, Murphy, C.J., held that: (1) visitation was not in children's best interests, and (2) there was no rebuttable presumption in favor of visitation by grandparents.  Affirmed.

 

Holloway v. Faw, Casson & Co., 319 Md. 324, 572 A.2d 510 (1990)

Accounting firm brought action against former partner for alleged breach of noncompetition clause contained in partnership agreement. The Circuit Court, Wicomico County, D. William Simpson, J., entered judgment in favor of accounting firm, and former partner appealed. The Court of Special Appeals, Bishop, J., 78 Md.App. 205, 552 A.2d 1311, affirmed in part, reversed in part and remanded. On grant of certiorari, the Court of Appeals, Rodowsky, J., held that: (1) covenants against competition between accountants are not per se unlawful as violative of public policy, and (2) fee equivalent clause of agreement was not unenforceable penalty but, rather, was valid liquidated damage clause.

 

K. C. S., Ltd. v. E. Main St. Land Dev. Corp., 40 Md. App. 196, 388 A.2d 181 (1978)

Tenant brought suit against landlord and others to enjoin sale of stock in landlord corporation under provision of lease granting tenant right of first refusal on sale or purchase of demised premises. The Circuit Court, Wicomico County, Lloyd L. Simpkins, J., dismissed tenant's bill of complaint, and tenant appealed. The Court of Special Appeals, Gilbert, C. J., held that sale of issued corporate stock of landlord or part of such stock did not constitute a transfer of the property of landlord corporation so as to be governed by provision of lease giving tenant right of first refusal on sale or purchase of demised properties.

 


Robins & Robins, P.A. based in Salisbury, MD serves the Delmarva Peninsula and Maryland ‘s Eastern Shore including Wicomico, Somerset, Worcester, Dorchester and Talbot Counties.



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