Monday, September 26, 2011

New Business & Technology Opinion - Montgomery County Circuit Court

The Circuit Court for Montgomery County, Maryland, Judge Ronald Rubin, recently issued an opinion in the Hospitality Partners, LLC v. Brewmasters Hotel, LLC case.

The case is summarized and linked to by Edward Sharkey of the Maryland State Bar Association's Business Law Section at

In the case, the Defendant argued (on a motion for new trial) that a $2.8 million judgment was inappropriate where there was a contractual clause allowing the Defendant to terminate a contract without cause and calling for a termination payment far below the $2.8 million awarded.

The court held that the Defendant did not argue applicability of that clause at trial, and could not do so now on a motion for new trial. In essence, the Defendant was stuck with its decision to try and terminate the contract "for cause."

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Maryland Court of Special Appeals: Perpetual Waiver of Statute of Limitations Unenforceable

In 2009, I helped my partner David Lease try the case of Ahmad v. Eastpines Terrace Apts. in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County. In that case, the plaintiff sued a company owned by his elderly father alleging that he was entitled to payment for services allegedly rendered to the company, and for amounts allegedly advanced on behalf of the company.

Defendant denied owing anything to Mr. Ahmad, and argued that even if any amounts ever had been due Plaintiff for his claims, those claims were barred by Maryland's three year statute of limitations. Plaintiff argued that a document he drafted and had his elderly father sign waived the statute of limitations. [The document had been drafted in English, and Plaintiff's father could not read English]

At trial, the Circuit Court held that the document did not perpetually waive the statute of limitations, and that in any event, a perpetual waiver would be against public policy and unenforceable. Judgment was entered in favor of our client on all of Plaintiff's claims. Plaintiff appealed to the Court of Special Appeals.

The Court of Special Appeals affirmed the Circuit Court. The appellate Court held that the document in question did not specifically say that it waived limitations perpetually, and that even if it did, perpetual waivers of limitations would be unenforceable under Maryland law.

A copy of the opinion is here.

New Case on Attorneys' Fee Awards

The Maryland Court of Special Appeals today decided Friolo v. Frankel, which will be known as Friolo IV because it is the fourth appeal of this case on the issue of attorneys' fees in a wage payment and collection case under Maryland law.

The opinion is here.

It is likely that none of the parties in the case are happy with the result. According to Plaintiffs' counsel, they have billed hundreds of thousands of dollars in this case, but were only awarded a fraction of those fees. Defendants have spent similar amounts and the result of the case requires that they pay Plaintiffs the original (small) judgment in the case and more than four times that much in legal fees to the Plaintiffs' counsel.