In Donegal Associates, LLC v. Christie-Scott, LLC, 248 Md. App. 448 (2020), the Court of Special Appeals (CSA) held that a commercial landlord could exercise self-help by reentering the leasehold premises, evicting the tenant, and taking possession of the tenant’s personal property. The CSA permitted this because the lease authorized these remedies and the landlord effected the actions without breaching the peace. In so doing, the CSA reversed the judgment of the Circuit Court for Howard County that had held the landlord liable for conversion and awarded the tenant compensatory damages in the net amount of $96,633.96 plus punitive damages of $1 million.
By executive order dated December 17, 2020, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan extended the stay on residential foreclosures and the prohibition of certain residential and commercial evictions in response to COVID-19. At the federal level, President Joseph Biden, Jr. requested by executive action on January 20, 2021 that certain agencies extend the federal moratorium for similar actions.
The December Order amends and restates previous executive orders issued October 16, 2020, and April 3, 2020; specifies requirements lenders must follow with respect to residential foreclosures; and provides instructions to Maryland courts regarding residential and commercial evictions.
In Frederick County, Maryland v. LeGore Bridge Solar Center, LLC, No. 1249, Sept. Term 2019, 2020 WL 6892007 (Nov. 24, 2020), the Court of Special Appeals (CSA) reversed a decision of the Public Service Commission to grant a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity to LeGore Bridge Solar Center, LLC to construct a proposed 20-MW solar farm in Frederick County. Although the CSA recognized the PSC’s preemptive authority over local zoning processes, the CSA ruled that the PSC’s decision was based on an error of law by deeming the applicant to have had a “vested right” to proceed with the project even though the project had not yet begun construction. The CSA held that it could not affirm for any reason that had not been relied on by the Commission. The CSA remanded the case back to the Commission for reconsideration of its decision without improperly relying on the vested rights doctrine.
In June 2020, CEC Entertainment, Inc., the operator of the Chuck E. Cheese stores, filed under Chapter 11 in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas. In August, CEC filed an abatement motion seeking rent abatement beyond the 60-day abatement period provided by §365(d)(3) of the Bankruptcy Code regarding leases in North Carolina, Washington state and California. In support, CEC argued that (i) the bankruptcy court has the equitable power under the Bankruptcy Code to order an abatement, (ii) force majeure clauses in its leases excused its payment of rent, and (iii) the doctrine of frustration of purpose was applicable to relieve CEC of its rental obligation.
Lawrence Coppel wrote this summary. Larry is former Senior Counsel at Gordon Feinblatt and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In 2627 LLC v. Valley’s Planning Council, Inc., No. 1838, Sept. Term, 2017, 2020 WL 4673887 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. Aug. 12, 2020), the Court of Special Appeals vacated the judgment of the Circuit Court for Baltimore County that found a proposed development plan was barred by collateral estoppel. The circuit court’s ruling was based on the plan’s similarities to a prior plan for the residential development in the Caves Valley area of Baltimore County that had been previously rejected.
In 2015, 2627 LLC sought approval of a development plan that proposed the construction of four single-family homes on a 24.18-acre unimproved parcel of land. The land was located on a ridge in the Caves Valley National Register Historic District in Baltimore County, a property adjacent to the Stemmer House, a Baltimore County landmark in a Baltimore County historic environmental site. During a hearing before the Office of Administrative Hearings for Baltimore County, several parties opposed the 2015 Plan because in 2004, a previous owner of the property was denied approval of a different development plan to construct homes in the same location.
The following Gordon Feinblatt attorneys have been selected as 2021 Maryland Super Lawyers® in the area of Real Estate:
Also, Christopher T. Magette was selected by Super Lawyers® as a 2021 Rising Star in Banking, Creditor Debtor Rights and Real Estate.
Edward J. Levin will be a panelist on an upcoming Strafford live webinar on “Navigating UCC Issues in Real Estate Finance Opinions” scheduled for Wednesday, March 24, 2021.
Edward J. Levin and William D. Shaughnessy, Jr. wrote “Commercial landlords’ right to self-help,” which was published online December 9, 2020, in The Daily Record and in the print edition on December 10, 2020.