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Fall 2012
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The Defense Line: Fall 2012

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The Defense Line: A Publication From The Maryland Defense Counsel, Inc.


justiceVenable attorneys win in Maryland Court of Special Appeals

A Venable team consisting of Craig Thompson and Michael De Vinne, representing Attransco, Inc. recently won an important matter before the Maryland Court of Special Appeals, further erasing a damaging jury verdict that was reported by a number of legal publications.

Appellant, Leroy Conway Jr., originally filed a complaint for damages against Attransco, Inc., in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City. The complaint sought money damages arising out of Conway Jr.'s diagnosis with mesothelioma. Conway Jr. alleged that his mesothelioma was caused by exposure to asbestos dust brought home on his father's clothing after work on the Baltimore Trader, a merchant vessel owned by Attransco. On January 26, 2010 the jury returned a verdict for Conway Jr., and awarded him close to $10 million for past and future non-economic damages, and nearly one million dollars for past and future economic damages. Attransco then filed a motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict ("JNOV"), and the Circuit Court entered an order granting the motion and entering judgment in favor of Attransco. Conway Jr. appealed.

Thompson and De Vinne represented Attransco during the appeal, and persuaded the Court of Special Appeals to affirm the ruling of the Circuit Court.

Miles & Stockbridge Secures Summary Judgment For Manufacturers in Contingent Business Interruption Insurance Coverage Case

In a 51-page Memorandum Opinion, the Honorable Ellen Hollander held that Millennium Inorganic Chemicals Ltd. and Cristal Inorganic Chemicals Ltd. (collectively “Millennium”) were entitled to insurance coverage for a business interruption loss arising from an explosion that shut down operations at their titanium dioxide manufacturing facilities in Western Australia. Millennium Inorganic Chems. Ltd, et al.. v. National Union Fire Ins. Co. of Pittsburgh, PA., et al. No. ELH-09-1893, 2012 WL 4480708 (D. Md. Sept. 28, 2012). At issue in the case were “All-Risk” property insurance policies issued by defendants National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, PA and ACE American Insurance Company. The policies provided contingent business interruption coverage to Millennium in situations where Millennium’s operations were shut down because of physical damage to a “direct contributing property.” Judge Hollander held that the policies were ambiguous when applied to Millennium’s loss, which arose from a major explosion at a natural gas production facility. She further held that no extrinsic evidence was produced to explain the ambiguity either way, that no dispute of material fact existed, and that Millennium was accordingly entitled to coverage under the doctrine of contra proferentem. A trial on damages—which Millennium claims exceed $10 million—has been scheduled for February, 2013. Millennium is represented by Miles & Stockbridge lawyers Joseph L. Beavers, John C. Celeste, Gary C. Duvall, and Jeffrey P. Reilly.

Peggy Fonshell Ward, of Ward & Herzog, won a summary judgment motion in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County in a near drowning case. The case arose from a three year old boy gaining access to a closed, fenced, chained and padlocked swimming pool at the apartment complex where he lived. When removed from the pool he was without pulse or respirations. He was revived, but left with severe anoxic brain injury. Plaintiff originally filed the case in Baltimore City, but Ms. Ward was successful in having venue transferred to Montgomery County where the event occurred. Judge Louise Scrivener granted the defendants’ motion, which asserted that regulations regarding allowable space in the pool fence did not apply to a pool and fence constructed twenty years before the regulations were enacted, and also asserted that the child was a trespasser to whom the apartment complex owners and managers owed no duty.

Maryland Defense Counsel, Inc.
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