Justia Maryland Supreme Court Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Commercial Law
Lyles v. Santander Consumer USA Inc.
The Court of Appeals answered a certified question of law by holding that Md. Code Comm. Law (CL) 12-1018(b) requires a credit grantor that is found to have knowingly violated Credit Grantor Closed End Credit Provisions (CLEC), CL 12-1001 et seq., to forfeit three times the amount of interest, fees, and charged collected in violation of the subtitle.This case concerned a borrower who purchased a motor vehicle and financed it by closed end credit pursuant to an agreement governed by CLEC. The federal district court issued a certified question of law regarding the calculation of damages under CL 12-1018(b). The Court of Appeals held that, based upon prior caselaw regarding CLEC, a plain language analysis of CL 12-1018(b), and a review of the pertinent legislative history, CL 12-1018(b) requires a credit grantor who has knowingly violated the CLEC to forfeit three times the amount of interest, fees, and charges collected in violation of CL 12-1018(b). View "Lyles v. Santander Consumer USA Inc." on Justia Law
Price v. Murdy
In answering a question of law certified to it by the United States District Court of the District of Maryland, the Court of Appeals held that Md. Code Ann. Cts. & Jud. Proc. (CJP) 12-601 to 12-613 is a statutory specialty and that actions on it are accorded a twelve-year limitations period.At issue was whether the licensing requirement of the Maryland Consumer Loan Law (MCLL), Md. Code Ann. Com. Law 12-302, was a statutory specialty as contemplated by CJP 5-102(a)(6) requiring filing within twelve years after the cause of action accrues. The Court of Appeals answered the question certified to it in the affirmative, holding that the MCLL’s licensing requirement is an “other specialty” within the meaning of CJP 5-102(a)(6) and that a claim brought on it is entitled to a twelve-year limitations period. View "Price v. Murdy" on Justia Law
Allstate Lien & Recovery Corp. v. Stansbury
Respondent had his vehicle serviced at Russel Collision and was billed for the repairs. Jeremy Martin, Russel Collision’s manager, later signed a “Notice of Sale of Motor Vehicle to Satisfy a Lien” for Respondent’s vehicle. The notice listed the “cost of process” at $1,000, which was the amount to which Russel Collision and Allstate Lien agreed they were entitled to keep Respondent’s car and sell it unless Respondent paid the costs related to the future sale of the car. Respondent’s vehicle was eventually sold at auction. Respondent filed suit against Russel Collision, Martin, and Allstate Lien, alleging that Md. Code Ann. Com. Law ("CL") 16-202(c), which provided Russel Collision a lien for Respondent’s vehicle, does not permit lien recovery costs of $1,000 as fees prior to the sale of the car. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Respondent. The Court of Special Appeals affirmed, holding that, under CL 16-202(c), a motor vehicle lien does not encompass “cost of process” fees and that such fees should not be included in the amount the customer must pay to redeem the vehicle. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that a garagemen’s lien does not encompass lien enforcement costs or expenses or cost of process fees prior to sale should the owner attempt to redeem the vehicle before sale. View "Allstate Lien & Recovery Corp. v. Stansbury" on Justia Law
Gardner v. Ally Fin., Inc.
Gladys Garner and Randolph Scott defaulted on their respective automobile loan agreements. Both contracts were governed by the provisions of the Creditor Grantor Closed End Credit Act of the Commercial Law Article (CLEC). The contracts were later assigned to Ally Financial, Inc., Nuvell National Auto Finance, and Nuvell Financial Services (collectively, GMAC). GMAC repossessed both vehicles and informed the debtors that the vehicles would be sold at a "public auction." Both cars were later sold. The debtors filed separate complaints against GMAC alleging, in part, that GMAC violated the CLEC because the sales of their cars were in reality "private sales," requiring GMAC to provide a detailed post-sale disclosure to them under the CLEC, which GMAC had not done. The federal district court combined the cases and granted summary judgment for GMAC, concluding the sales were "public auctions" because they were both widely advertised and open to the public for competitive bidding. The federal appellate court then certified an issue for clarification to the Maryland Court of Appeals. The Court answered that the auctions were in reality "private sales" because attendance was limited to those who paid a refundable $1,000 cash deposit. View "Gardner v. Ally Fin., Inc." on Justia Law
D’Aoust v. Diamond
This case stemmed from the judicial sale of a condominium owned by Petitioner and conducted by two court-appointed trustees that were employed by a law firm (collectively, Respondents). Following the sale, Petitioner filed a complaint, alleging breach of fiduciary duty involving actual fraud and breach of fiduciary duty involving constructive fraud by the trustees and alleging vicarious liability by the law firm. The trial judge granted Respondents' motion to dismiss, concluding that Respondents were entitled to qualified judicial immunity for their actions in connection with the sale. The court of special appeals (1) reversed with regard to Petitioner's allegations of actual fraud, and (2) affirmed with regard to the other causes of action on grounds of qualified judicial immunity. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding that Respondents were not entitled to absolute judicial immunity, and the concept of qualified public official immunity was inapplicable to the circumstances of this case. View "D'Aoust v. Diamond" on Justia Law
Commc’ns Workers of Am., ALF-CIO v. Pub. Serv. Comm’n of Md.
Verizon Maryland, a telecommunications company, and the staff of the Public Service Commission (PSC) obtained PSC approval of a global settlement of six pending cases. Verizon employed an alternative form of regulation (AFOR) under Md. Code Ann. Pub. Util. Co. (PUC) 4-301 that included up to $6,000,000 in bill credits to customers with out-of-service complaints that were not resolved in compliance with specified standards. PSC approved the AFOR pursuant to PUC 4-301. A technicians union objected, contending that the service quality aspects of the AFOR did not ensure the quality, availability, and reliability of service required by PUC 4-301. The circuit court affirmed PSC's approval of the AFOR. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that PSC acted within its discretion in approving the AFOR, as PUC 4-301's use of the term "ensuring" did not require that PSC be completely certain that Verizon's incentive strategy would result in compliance with standards. View "Commc'ns Workers of Am., ALF-CIO v. Pub. Serv. Comm'n of Md." on Justia Law
Maddox v. Cohn
This case arose out of a mortgage foreclosure proceeding involving a residential sale. In the advertisement for the sale, the trustees included an additional condition not found in the mortgage documents or authorized by the Maryland Rules that any successful purchaser at the sale would be required to pay the legal fees of attorneys who would be utilized to review the documents on behalf of the trustees by which they would hold settlement and ultimately convey title. The circuit court and court of special appeals ratified the sale. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that in the absence of specific authority in the contract of indebtedness or contained in statute or court rule, it is an impermissible abuse of discretion for trustees or the lenders who 'bid in' properties to include the demand for additional legal fees for the benefit of the trustees in the advertisement of sale or in any other way that is in contrary to the duty of trustees to maximize the proceeds of the sales and, moreover, is not in conformance with state or local rules and is against public policy. View "Maddox v. Cohn" on Justia Law
Burson v. Simard
After an auction sale was ratified, Respondent David Simard defaulted on his contract to purchase the real property in question. Simard admitted liability for the risk and expense of the initial resale, but when the purchaser at the resale defaulted as well, Simard balked at paying the expense and loss incurred at a second resale. Applying Md. R. Civ. P. 14-305(g), the circuit court held that Simard was liable for the risk and expense of both resales. The court of special appeals reversed, holding that Rule 14-305(g) required that a defaulting purchaser be responsible for only one resale. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that absent special circumstances, a defaulting purchaser at a foreclosure sale of property is liable, under Rule 14-305(g), for only the one resale resulting from his or her default. View "Burson v. Simard" on Justia Law
Anderson v. Burson
Petitioners defaulted on their refinanced home mortgage because of financial hardships. Faced with foreclosure, Petitioners initiated a request to enjoin the foreclosure action filed by Respondents. Respondents, the substitute trustees under the mortgage and Deutsche Bank, possessed and sought to enforce an under-indorsed mortgage note, which, prior to coming into their possession, was transferred three times intermediately, bundled with a multitude of other mortgages, securitized, lost, and then discovered before the ultimate evidentiary hearing leading to the foreclosure sale. The trial court denied injunctive relief to Petitioners, and the court of special appeals affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that Respondents were nonholders in possession and entitled to enforce the note and deed of trust through foreclosure. View "Anderson v. Burson" on Justia Law
Guttman v. Wells Fargo Bank
In this action, secured parties, as creditors in bankruptcy proceedings and appellees here, attempted in separate cases before the bankruptcy court to execute on four deeds of trust whose affidavits of considerations were missing or improper. Appellants, four trustees in bankruptcy, argued that those defects rendered the deeds of trust invalid such that the trustees possessed the properties free and clear of the creditor's interests. The creditors countered that Md. Code Ann. Real Prop. 4-109 cured the defects at issue. The Court of Appeals accepted certified questions regarding the statute and answered them in the affirmative, holding that Section 4-109 is unambiguous, and pursuant to the plain language of the statute and as confirmed by legislative history, cures the type of defects identified by the trustees, including missing or improper affidavits or acknowledgments, unless a timely judicial challenge is mounted. View "Guttman v. Wells Fargo Bank" on Justia Law