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Criminal Law


Advocacy in Annapolis


2011 Legislative Report Wayne M. Willoughby D


ue to the efforts of justice-minded Maryland legislators, as well as your MAJ legislative team and membership, MAJ had a successful 2011 Legislative


Session. MAJ’s team reviewed over 2,300 pieces of legislation and actively monitored or lobbied approximately 100 bills. Tis Session saw MAJ obtain a number of legislative gains including bills that: allow pre-litigation discovery of available insurance for motor vehicle accident claims; ease the burden to obtain current address information on defendants; and, remove the obstacle of having to petition the Orphans Court in order to obtain payment of contingency fees in survival actions.


Moreover, MAJ successfully defeated many significant


immunity proposals and the seemingly never ending efforts to enact further limitations on the rights of negligently injured patients. Te following summarizes 2011 legislation of the most


significance to injured Marylanders and the attorneys who represent them. (Tese summaries are overviews and do not attempt to describe every nuisance or condition contained in each bill.)


Legislation Affecting the Judicial System


HB 1129 Te Maryland Contributory Negligence Act Tis bill was intended to head off judicial review of the common law contributory negligence defense. MAJ strongly opposed the bill and it died in committee without a vote.


SB 673


Estates and Trusts - Payment of Attorney’s Fees - Contingency Fee MAJ strongly supported this bill, signed into law by Governor Martin O’Malley on April 12, 2011, which eliminates the need to obtain Orphans Court approval for payment of attorney contingency fees pertaining to representation of an estate in litigation. Tis bill takes effect October 1, 2011.


HB 483 Courts - Discovery - Examination in Aid of Enforcement of Money Judgment MAJ opposed this bill to limit the ability of judgment creditors to conduct discovery in aid of enforcement of a money judgment. Te bill died in committee 14-6.


SB 998 Circuit Court - Civil Actions - Waiver of Discovery Deadlines - Informed Written Consent MAJ opposed this bill that would have required attorneys to obtain their client’s written informed consent to alter any deadline in a discovery schedule. Te bill was filed late and bottled up in the Senate Rules committee, where it died.


Legislation Pertaining to Auto Negligence


HB 921/SB 599 Courts and Judicial Proceedings - Pre-litigation Discovery - Insurance Coverage Tese bills, strongly supported by MAJ, require auto insurers to produce policy limits information within 30 days of a written request for claims in which the medical expenses plus lost income damages totals at least $12,500. Signed into law by Governor O’Malley, the bill become effective October 1, 2011.


SB 142 Civil Action - Disclosure of Information - Modification of Requirements for Certification MAJ supported this bill, yet to be signed by the Governor, directing insurance carriers to provide the last known address of their insureds upon the filing of a certification that the defendant’s whereabouts are unknown, without requiring that the plaintiff list the efforts undertaken to locate the defendant. Tis bill will take effect on October 1, 2011.


Trial Reporter / Summer 2011 9


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