Justia Maryland Supreme Court Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Construction Law
Hancock v. Mayor & City Council of Baltimore
The Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the court of special appeals affirming the judgment of the circuit court granting Defendants' respective motions to dismiss the underlying survivorship and wrongful death action in which Plaintiffs sought damages arising from the death of Kyle Hancock, holding that there was no error or abuse of discretion.Hancock was working for R.F. Warder when he was buried alive at an excavation site. Warder was an independent contractor hired by the City of Baltimore to perform the excavation work. Because Plaintiffs were barred from bringing negligence claims against Warder, Plaintiffs named as defendants the City and Keith Sutton, who was on site at the time of the accident. The circuit court granted Defendants' motions to dismiss. The court of special appeals affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) one who hires an independent contractor is not liable to the contractor's employee for injuries caused by the contractor’s negligence in performing the work for which it was hired; and (2) the duty of a contractor or subcontractor on a construction job to exercise due care to provide for the safety of the employees of other contractors or subcontractors is owed with respect to conditions that the contractor or subcontractor creates or over which it exercises control. View "Hancock v. Mayor & City Council of Baltimore" on Justia Law
Brawner Builders, Inc. v. Maryland State Highway Administration
The Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the Maryland State Board of Contract Appeals (MSBCA) granting summary disposition as to the Maryland State Highway Administration's (SHA) claims against Brawner Builders, Inc. and Faddis Concrete Products, Inc., holding that there was no error in the MSBCA's decision to grant SHA's motion for summary decision.SHA and Brawner entered into a contract for the construction of noise barriers along a section of interstate. Faddis manufactured noise wall panels for Brawner's use in connection with the project. SHA subsequently suspended approval of Faddis-produced noise panels. Faddis filed a procurement contract claim. The MSBCA issued summary disposition to the SHA, concluding that Faddis had no standing to file such a claim. At issue on appeal was whether Faddis's status as a "pre-approved supplier" of concrete panels on construction projects administered by the SHA constituted a "procurement contract" with the State under the State Finance and Procurement Article. The circuit court reversed. The court of special appeals reversed the circuit court. The court of Special Appeals affirmed, holding that the MSBCA properly dismissed Faddis's claims and entered judgment in SHA's favor. View "Brawner Builders, Inc. v. Maryland State Highway Administration" on Justia Law
Nationwide Property & Casualty Insurance Co. v. Selective Way Insurance Co.
The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the court of special appeals concluding that prejudgment interest on defense costs where a party breaches its duty to defend does not fall within the exception to the "modified discretionary approach" and is within the discretion of the fact-finder.The modified discretionary approach used by Maryland courts in awarding prejudgment interest generally places the award of prejudgment interest within the discretion of the trier of fact but also recognizes exceptions where a plaintiff is entitled to prejudgment interest as a matter of right. At issue was whether prejudgment interest should be awarded as a matter of right. The Court of Appeals held (1) prejudgment interest on defense costs is left to the discretion of the fact-finder; and (2) where the jury in this case was not presented with a claim of prejudgment interest, was not instructed on the issue, and did not separately state an award of prejudgment interest in the verdict, the circuit court was not authorized to award prejudgment interest. View "Nationwide Property & Casualty Insurance Co. v. Selective Way Insurance Co." on Justia Law
C&B Construction, Inc. v. Dashiell
In this breach of contract case stemming from the failure to pay for labor and materials provided by a construction subcontractor (Petitioner) to a general contractor through six construction contracts, the Court of Appeals affirmed the judgments of the circuit court and the court of special appeals in favor of Respondents.The Court of Appeals held (1) where there has been an invocation of the Maryland Construction Trust Statute, there must be a showing that the statute applies to the contracts in dispute; (2) Md. Code Real Prop. 9-204(a) contains a requirement that the contracts be subject to the Maryland Little Miller Act or the Maryland Mechanics’ Lien Statute; and (3) Petitioner failed to demonstrate that the protections afforded by the Maryland Construction Trust Statute were applicable. View "C&B Construction, Inc. v. Dashiell" on Justia Law
Young Electrical Contractors, Inc. v. Dustin Construction, Inc.
The award of summary judgment in favor of the general contractor against the subcontractor in this case based on a pay-if-paid clause was improper because the pay-if-paid clause did not apply to the issues in this case.Pay-if-paid clauses make the project owner’s payment of the general contractor a condition precedent of the general contractor’s obligation to pay the subcontractor. Thus, the pay-if-paid clause can relieve the general contractor of liability to the subcontractor even where the subcontractor has fully performed its part of the subcontract. Here, Subcontractor sued General Contractor for breach of contract relating to a construction project. The circuit court granted summary judgment to General Contractor, concluding that, under Virginia law, a pay-if-paid provision in the subcontract applied to the damages sought. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case, holding (1) the pay-if-paid clause did not necessarily apply to the costs at issue in this case; and (2) the other provision relied upon by the circuit court did not create a condition precedent for payment of subcontractors. View "Young Electrical Contractors, Inc. v. Dustin Construction, Inc." on Justia Law
Raynor v. State
Two years after she was raped, the victim reported her suspicion that Petitioner was the rapist. Petitioner went to the police station for an interview but refused to provide a DNA sample. After Petitioner left the station, the police took swabs of the armrests of the chair in which he had sat and submitted those swabs for DNA analysis. That DNA sample matched DNA collected from the victim’s home on the day of the rape. Petitioner was charged with first-degree rape and related offenses. Petitioner filed a pre-trial motion seeking suppression of the DNA evidence. The suppression court denied the motion, concluding that Petitioner had no reasonable expectation of privacy in the DNA evidence left on the chair. The court of special appeals affirmed the denial of the suppression motion. Petitioner filed a petition for a writ of certiorari but conceded that the police lawfully obtained his genetic material from the armrests of the chair. The issue before the Court of appeals was whether law enforcement’s testing of the identifying loci within that DNA material was a search for purposes of the Fourth Amendment. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the DNA testing at issue was not a search under the Fourth Amendment. View "Raynor v. State" on Justia Law
State Ctr., LLC v. Lexington Charles Ltd. P’ship
At issue in this case was the State Center Project, a $1.5 billion redevelopment project intended to revitalize property owned by the State in Baltimore. In 2005, the State issued a public request for qualifications to solicit a master developer for the project. The State Center, LLC was chosen as the master developer. The Maryland Department of General Services (“DGS”), the Maryland Department of Transportation (“MDOT”) and the State Center, LLC negotiated for the Project, entering a series of agreements between 2007 and 2010 to complete the Project in a timely manner. In 2010, Plaintiffs, property owners in downtown Baltimore and taxpayers, filed suit against the DGS, MDOT, and the State Center and its subsidiaries, seeking a declaratory judgment that the formative contracts for the Project were void and seeking an injunction to halt the Project. The trial court voided the formative contracts, concluding that they violated the State Procurement Law. The Court of Appeals vacated the judgment of the circuit court and remanded with directions to dismiss Plaintiffs’ complaint with prejudice, holding that Plaintiffs’ claims were barred by the doctrine of laches due to an unreasonable delay in bringing their claims, causing prejudice to the defendants. View "State Ctr., LLC v. Lexington Charles Ltd. P’ship" on Justia Law
Kent Island, LLC v. DiNapoli
Petitioner entered into a consent order with the several Queen Anne's County officials regarding resolution of their disputes over Petitioner's proposed construction of a project in the county. The consent order terminated litigation in Kent Island I in the Anne Arundel County circuit court. Seeking invalidation of the consent order, Respondents filed suit in the Queen Anne's County circuit court (Kent Island II). On Petitioner's motion, the case was transferred to the Anne Arundel County circuit court, which granted summary judgment for Petitioner. The court of special appeals vacated the judgment, finding that venue was appropriate in the Queen Anne's County circuit court. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the circuit court for Queen Anne's County did not have jurisdiction to modify or revise the consent order, a final judgment, entered by the Anne Arundel County circuit court; and (2) moreover, the Anne Arundel County circuit court was not empowered to revise or modify the judgment entered in Kent Island I in a manner sought by Respondents, as none of Respondents were a party in Kent Island I, and therefore, they could not maintain an action seeking either circuit court to exercise revisory power over the judgment in Kent Island II. View "Kent Island, LLC v. DiNapoli" on Justia Law
CR-RSC Tower I, LLC v. RSC Tower I, LLC
The owners of two properties leased them to developer-tenants for the purpose of building an apartment building on each. As construction was beginning, the landlords breached the leases by refusing to provide estoppel certificates and contesting the tenants' building permits. The landlords' breach prevented the tenants from obtaining financing, which ended the development project. The tenants sued for lost profits. Before trial, the circuit court ruled against the landlords on several motions, holding in part (1) the landlords could not introduce evidence of the 2008 crash in the real estate market to show that the tenants would not have made profits, and (2) the tenants could introduce evidence of the landlords' reasons for breaching, including communications with their former counsel. The jury awarded the tenants over $36 million in damages, holding the landlords jointly and severally liable. The court of special appeals held the landlords could not be held jointly and severally liable but otherwise affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) the trial court did nor err in excluding all evidence of post-breach market data in measuring damages; and (2) the landlord waived the attorney-client privilege as to communications relevant to the subject matter of the claim of bad faith. View "CR-RSC Tower I, LLC v. RSC Tower I, LLC" on Justia Law
Bldg. Materials Corp. of Am. v. Bd. of Educ.
For some years, the Board of Education of Baltimore County belonged to a governmental group purchasing consortium, which competitively bid a roofing services contract on behalf of its members. The Board relied on that contact to fulfill its needs for roofing repair services. Appellant Building Materials Corporation of America, a nationwide manufacturer of roofing materials, questioned the Board's authority for that practice under the pertinent statutes. The circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of the Board. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that when viewed in the context of the entire education law and regulations promulgated under that law, the competitive bidding statute did not bar the Board from using its membership in an intergovernmental purchasing consortium for the procurement of roofing repair services. View "Bldg. Materials Corp. of Am. v. Bd. of Educ." on Justia Law