Articles Posted in Maryland Court of Appeals

by
Lender’s assignee (Assignee), while operating as an unlicensed debt collector, obtained a judgment against a credit card debtor (Debtor) in district court. Debtor’s contract with Lender included an arbitration provision. Debtor then filed a class action suit collaterally attacking the judgment based on violations of Maryland consumer protection laws. Assignee filed a motion to arbitrate the class action suit pursuant to an arbitration clause between Lender and Debtor. Assignee moved to compel arbitration. The circuit court granted the motion to compel, thus rejecting Debtor’s argument that Assignee waived its right to arbitrate when it brought its collection action against Debtor. The Court of Special Appeals affirmed. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that because Assignee’s collection action was related to Debtor’s claims, Assignee waived its contractual right to arbitrate Debtor’s claims when it chose to litigate the collection action. View "Cain v. Midland Funding, LLC" on Justia Law

by
Following his arrest for illegal drug activity, Petitioner was released on bond and withdrew all of the money contained in two bank accounts. Law enforcement traced the money to Petitioner’s sister’s bank account and seized the bank account. Less than ninety days after the conclusion of Petitioner’s criminal proceedings, the Department of Finance of Montgomery County filed a complaint petition for currency forfeiture as to the sister’s bank account. Petitioner’s sister argued that her bank account was not “money” under Maryland's forfeiture statute and that the complaint for forfeiture was untimely filed. The circuit court rejected that argument and ultimately found that the funds in the bank account constituted illegal drug proceeds. The court, therefore, granted forfeiture of the entire amount. The Court of Special Appeals affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) the funds contained in a bank account are “money” for purposes of the forfeiture statute; and (2) the forfeiting authority timely filed the complaint for forfeiture of the bank account within the deadline applicable to the filing of a complaint for forfeiture of money. View "Bottini v. Dep’t of Finance, Montgomery County" on Justia Law

by
The Fangmans sought to represent a class of approximately 4,000 to 5,000 individuals who, from 2009 to 2014, retained Genuine Title for settlement and title services and utilized various lenders for the purchase and/or refinancing of their residences, allegedly as a result of referrals from the lenders. All of the lenders are servicers of federally related mortgage loans. The complaint alleges an illegal kickback scheme and that “sham companies” that were created by Genuine Title to conceal the kickbacks, which were not disclosed on the HUD-1 form. After dismissing most of the federal claims, the federal court certified to the Maryland Court of Appeals the question of law: Does Md. Code , Real Prop. [(1974, 2015 Repl. Vol.) 14-127 imply a private right of action?” The statute prohibits certain consideration in real estate transactions. That court responded “no” and held that RP 14-127 does not contain an express or implied private right of action, as neither its plain language, legislative history, nor legislative purpose demonstrates any intent on the General Assembly’s part to create a private right of action. View "Fangman v. Genuine Title, LLC" on Justia Law

by
While living in Maryland, Petitioner opened a personal line of credit and a credit card account with Respondent. Respondent later filed two complaints against Petitioner in a Maryland district court, one for the outstanding balance on the credit card account and the other for the amount owed on the line of credit. At the time of the filings, Petitioner was living and working in Texas. Respondent was awarded default judgments. Respondent subsequently secured two writs of garnishment in the same actions from the district court. The writs were served on the resident agent of Petitioner’s employer. Petitioner moved to quash the writs, arguing that his wages earned solely for work he performed in Texas were not subject to garnishment in Maryland. The district court denied the motions to quash. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the district court in its continuing and ancillary jurisdiction properly ordered Petitioner’s wages earned in Texas to be subject to garnishment served upon Petitioner’s employer because of the employer’s continuous and systematic business in Maryland. View "Mensah v. MCT Fed. Credit Union" on Justia Law

by
Dorothy Urban's estate (Estate) filed suit against Robert Street, asking the circuit court to declare null and void a deed executed by Urban to Street for a residential property on the grounds that the execution of the deed was procured through fraud. Street subsequently executed a deed of trust for a loan that was secured by the property. The majority of the loan was used to pay off a mortgage on the property placed by Urban. Later, the circuit court directed that the property be conveyed in Street's name to the Estate. The court created a constructive trust on the property without expressly declaring the Urban-to-Street deed void ab initio. Street subsequently defaulted on the deed of trust and Petitioners filed a foreclosure action on the property. The Estate filed a motion to dismiss the foreclosure proceedings, which the circuit court denied. The court of special appeals reversed. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that although Petitioners were not bona fide purchasers of the property, under the doctrine of equitable subrogation, Petitioners were entitled to priority for the amount loaned to Street used to pay off the balance owed on the preexisting Urban mortgage. View "Fishman v. Murphy" on Justia Law

by
The Maryland Economic Development Corporation (MEDCO) is a public corporation established by the legislature to aid in promoting the economic development of the State. This litigation arose from MEDCO's involvement in the development of a technology development center. MEDCO sought a loan with Bank to finance the center. MEDCO executed a leasehold deed of trust with Bank requiring MEDCO to pay all recording costs and fees in connection with filing the loan documents. MEDCO subsequently presented the deed of trust for recording in Montgomery County, claiming an exemption from the recordation tax based on Md. Code Ann. Econ. Dev. 10-129(a), which granted MEDCO a tax exemption "from any requirement to pay taxes or assessments on its properties or activities." The county transfer office denied the exemption and required MEDCO to pay recordation tax. The county department of finance denied MEDCO's recordation tax refund claim. The tax court denied MEDCO's petition for appeal. The circuit court reversed, and the court of special appeals reversed the circuit court. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that, based on the plain language of section 10-129(a), the legislature intended to exempt MEDCO from paying the recordation tax at issue in this case. View "Md. Econ. Dev. Corp. v. Montgomery County" on Justia Law

by
This case arose out of a challenge by a borrower, Respondent, to the authority of various individuals and entities to effectuate a valid foreclosure on her residential property. After a foreclosure sale was scheduled by the substitute foreclosure trustees, but before the sale took place, Respondent filed a separate action seeking compensatory damages and declaratory and injunctive relief against the substitute trustees, Deutsche Bank, and BAC Home Loans Servicing for alleged defects in the foreclosure process and the authority of Defendants to foreclose on her property. Deutsche Bank and BAC (Petitioners) filed a motion for summary judgment on Respondent's action, which the circuit court granted. The court of special appeals reversed, finding that Petitioners did not prove they were persons entitled to enforce the promissory note, and thus genuine issues of material fact precluded summary judgment. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that BAC was entitled to enforce the note. Remanded. View "Deutsche Bank Nat'l Trust Co. v. Brock" on Justia Law

by
At issue in this case was whether Respondents, a property management company, law firm, and mortgage servicer, committed an impermissible forcible entry when they enforced, through lock-out, the foreclosure purchaser's lawful possessory interest in a dwelling by the means of the common law remedy of self-help, as opposed to receiving first the issuance of a statutory writ of possession from the circuit court. The circuit court granted Respondents' motions to dismiss, and the intermediate appellate court affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) the common law right of peaceable self-help permits a foreclosure purchaser to surreptitiously enter a residential property and change the locks while the resident is out; and (2) the court of special appeals erred in dismissing Plaintiff's conversion claim and in holding that Plaintiff had abandoned all personal property in the residence, as there was no adequate basis from which to conclude that Plaintiff abandoned his personalty or that Respondents acted reasonably in disposing of his belongings. View "Nickens v. Mt. Vernon Realty" on Justia Law

by
Petitioners were beneficiaries of a testamentary trust who sued the trustee, Respondent PNC Bank. Petitioners alleged that PNC improperly demanded that each beneficiary execute a broad release agreement prior to distribution and misapplied the provisions of the Maryland Code, Tax-General Article in calculating the amount of inheritance tax owed on the trust's assets and the amount of commission to which PNC was entitled as trustee. The circuit court granted summary judgment in PNC's favor, finding no legal impropriety in PNC's distribution plan or its calculation of the tax and commission. The court of special appeals affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that PNC's actions were in accord with Maryland law. View "Hastings v. PNC Bank, NA" on Justia Law

by
In 2008, the General Assembly enacted a statute to require that a foreclosing lender provide advance written notice to the borrower of its intention to foreclosure. Among the information to be provided in that notice is the identity of the "secured party," although the statute does not specifically define that phrase. In this case, there was more than one entity that qualified as a "secured party" under the commonly understood meaning of the phrase. At issue before the Court of Appeals was whether, in such a situation, a foreclosing party was obligated to identify all secured parties in the advance written notice to the borrower. The Court held (1) a foreclosing party should ordinarily identify, in the notice of intent to foreclose, each entity that is a "secured party" with respect to the deed of trust in question; (2) however, a failure to disclose every secured party is not a basis for dismissing a foreclosure action when certain conditions are met; and (3) under the circumstances of the instant case, because many of the enumerated conditions were met even though the notice failed to disclose every secured party, the dismissal of the foreclosure action was not required. View "Shepherd v. Burson" on Justia Law