Archive for the ‘Law in Baltimore, Maryland’ Category

A Baltimore City Ordinance Fuels The Abortion Debate – Archdiocese Goes to Court To Have It Declared Unconstitutional

April 21, 2010

According to a recent article in the Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore City ordinance requires local crisis pregnancy centers to post signs in their clinics disclosing that they do not offer abortion or birth control services. Apparently, this ordinance has angered the Archdiocese of Baltimore, which has decided to file a lawsuit in the Federal District Court, seeking to have the ordinance declared unconstitutional.  Its argument is that the government should be prohibited from compelling speech by requiring the clinics to post signs.  Why would the Archdiocese want to get rid of an ordinance, which, in essence, tells the public “you cannot get an abortion here?”

It appears that the Archdiocese’s remonstration has more to do with what the clinics do separate and apart from what the ordinance requires. Because the clinics must disclose that they do not offer abortion services, some of the clinics choose to post another notice, which informs the public about clinics that do offer abortion services. The ordinance does not require such a notice.

The Archdiocese seems to assume that the clinics would not have the incentive to post information on abortion clinics in the absence of the ordinance. This assumption appears attenuated at best.  Were these notices voluntarily posted by the clinics before the ordinance was enacted? Even if the ordinance were to be repealed, would the clinics still choose to post these notices? After all, they are not compelled to post the notices under the ordinance at the present time.  Whether or not a clinic chooses to post information on abortion clinics, can a patient simply walk in and inquire about abortion clinics?  The bottom line is that these clinics disclose information on abortion services because they want to and not because they have to.

I am curious if the Archdiocese would still want to pursue a lawsuit to repeal the ordinance if the clinics did not post notices with information on abortion clinics. Would it still have a problem with an ordinance telling the public “no abortions here.” Your thoughts?

Contributing author: Jon Stefanuca

Maryland House advances bill raising auto liability limits

March 26, 2010

Earlier this week, Maryland came one step closer to mandating increased bodily injury liability limits for their vehicle owners.  In a 97-36 vote, the Maryland House of Delegates approved a measure to increase the coverage.  Here are some of the key details, as reported by Insurance and Financial Advisor:          

The measure, sponsored by 18 Maryland legislators, increases the minimum amounts of coverage for bodily claims or death from a motor vehicle accident from $20,000 to $30,000 for one person, and from $40,000 to $60,000 for any two or more individuals. The proposed legislation would apply to all vehicle liability insurance policies issued, delivered or renewed in the state on or after Jan. 1, 2011, according to the text of the bill.

The fiscal note accompanying the bill said there is not enough data to show an impact on Maryland’s general fund as a result of the measure, but that special fund revenues for the Maryland Insurance Administration may increase by about $25,000 in fiscal year 2011, assuming 200 motor vehicle insurers pay the $125 rate filing fee to comply.

If the Senate Finance Committee gives a favorable report, the bill would then move to the full Maryland Senate.

The increased liability coverage requirement, if passed, would provide an opportunity for injured victims of automobile collisions, depending on the circumstances, to seek additional compensation for their injuries through the increased liability coverage.

» Girl who doesn’t age wins bruising suit against Hopkins  

February 10, 2010

The Daily Record reports a verdict this past Friday, February 5, 2010, in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, MD, in favor of the Greenberg family, which brought suit against Johns Hopkins Hospital for bruising she sustained while in the hospital’s care.  The Greenbergs, represented by Bob Weltchek and his son, Nolan, successfully prosecuted a claim that the hospital inappropriately restrained their child following a procedure in 2007; an award of $250,000 in compensatory damages resulted from the jury’s verdict.

The hospital, represented by Steven Hamilton and Karen Turner of Hamilton, Altman, Canale & Dillon in Bethesda, Maryland, has not yet decided whether to take an appeal from the verdict.

As interesting as the verdict may be, of at least equal interest is the history of this child, now 17 years old, and her relationship with Hopkins.

Brooke Greenberg turned 17 last month but looks and acts like a normal infant. She has been the subject of numerous news stories and documentaries, including a TLC special, “Child Frozen in Time.” Scientists continue to study her DNA to learn more about her aging process and in an attempt to explain her condition, as she has never been diagnosed with any type of genetic mutation.

Doctors at Hopkins had cared for Brooke when she experienced health problems early in her life, and she was a familiar face by the time she arrived for surgery March 12, 2007, with her own special crib and swing at the hospital, according to the lawsuit originally filed five months later. No complications from the surgery were reported, Weltchek said.

Howard Greenberg arrived at the hospital the next morning to find his daughter “in an agitated state, sitting unattended in a swing in the hospital corridor,” according to the complaint. Brooke was seen by a family pediatrician, who alerted Hopkins about the bruising, according to the complaint.

Danny Jacobs, the legal affairs writer for The Daily Record, reports in his article:  

The hospital says it followed its policy and reported the bruising to the city’s Child Protective Services, which investigated the matter along with police and the state’s attorney’s office. No evidence of abuse was found.

Nolan Weltchek believes that the verdict in part was influenced by the fact that the child’s attending nurse made a change to the medical record 3 days after the incident, when she noted the bruising for the first time.  There was also photographic evidence of the injury shown to the jury.

Hopkins has issued a statement, which states in part:

“We remain confident that the care this child received at Hopkins was compassionate, caring and appropriate.  Johns Hopkins has cared compassionately for Brooke Greenberg during her multiple hospitalizations at The Johns Hopkins Hospital and her condition is both complex and heartbreaking.”

Jacobs further reports:

The hospital says it followed its policy and reported the bruising to the city’s Child Protective Services, which investigated the matter along with police and the state’s attorney’s office. No evidence of abuse was found. Counts in the lawsuit alleging battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress were dismissed prior to the trial, leaving only a medical malpractice claim.

The Greenbergs severed ties with Hopkins following the March 2007 surgery, Weltchek added. The family now takes Brooke to Sinai Hospital for any medical issues and has given a team of geneticists in North Carolina the rights to study her.

No more ‘tweeting’ in Baltimore Circuit Court – The Baltimore Sun

February 10, 2010

I just read this on my TweetDeck and couldn’t get to my keyboard fast enough.  Twitter crackdown in Baltimore Circuit Court  Social networking is banned from one of our local courthouses.  What gave rise to this ‘order’?  Answer:  former Mayor Dixon’s recent criminal trial and some juror conduct discovered in its aftermath.

Rather than recount the words of the Sun’s writer, let me quote some well put thoughts on this new edict:

  • The starting point for any conversation about what restrictions judges may place on courtroom behavior must be that our criminal justice system is predicated on the notion of openness.
  • [T]his order extends the scope of the restrictions from the courtroom to the entire courthouse, and at that point, any justification for them ends. It is impossible to imagine a situation in which posting information on Twitter from the hallway outside of a courtroom would be in the least bit disruptive, or that forcing someone to walk outside the courthouse before tweeting would do anything to enhance security.
  • The absurdity of the court’s order is underscored by the impossibility of enforcing it. Rather than tweeting from the hallway, a court observer could simply call someone outside and have him or her post the same information on a social networking site. The order doesn’t stop someone from posting information directly onto a blog, or a television or radio reporter from calling the station and providing updates from the hallway live on the air.

While President Obama and his administration are working hard for transparency and openness in the government, the Circuit Court for Baltimore City has taken a step backward in the twenty-first century.  Is making  ‘tweeting’ from the hallway in the courthouse more difficult really going to put a damper on the ever-growing function of social networking?  No – it may be a bit more cumbersome, but tweets, blogs and postings will continue to fill the internet airwaves.

Choosing a Lawyer – A How-To Guide

December 24, 2009

One of the most important things you can do if you are considering a lawsuit is to spend time doing a proper search for the lawyer, who will be handling your case.

Just because a law firm or a lawyer has a fancy webpage or an eye-catching ad in your local phone directory or even a professional looking TV commercial does not mean that this lawyer has a clue what he/she is doing in the specialized areas of medical malpractice or catastrophic personal injury.

We invite you to read and consider the issues and questions raised in our White Paper – “How to Choose a Lawyer.”

If you have other ideas or questions that you believe would be helpful to our readers in their search for a lawyer, post your reply on this topic so others may benefit by your insights.