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Litigation and Alternative Dispute Resolution

Looking for the Next Big Case: Maryland Court of Appeals

Contact: Brad McCullough; Lerch Early & Brewer (Maryland, USA)
 The petition presents four issues, two of which seem particularly interesting. First, does a conviction obtained through the use of scientific evidence that is later demonstrated to be unreliable, misleading, and inadmissible violate a defendant’s guarantee of due process? Second, does the use of perjured expert testimony by a State expert violate a defendant’s due process rights when the perjured testimony involves the expert’s qualifications and background? This could be a fascinating case.

During its past two terms, the Maryland Court of Appeals issued several decisions that attracted a lot of attention. It’s hard to know whether any decision this year will draw the same level of interest, but a quick review of the cases to be argued during September and October revealed at least two cases that should prove interesting...

Leveling the Playing Field: New York’s “Employee Choice Doctrine” Can Improve Employer Positioning in Non-Compete Litigation

Contact: Jaeckle Fleischmann & Mugel, LLP (Buffalo, New York, USA)

One of the most disruptive scenarios for any company is the departure of a key employee who has signed up to work for a competitor. In addition to the significant emotional aspects of the situation, companies find themselves suddenly vulnerable and facing considerable unanticipated business risks. Has the employee taken competitively sensitive trade secret information developed over years of hard work? Will that information now be used against the company? Did the employee sign a non-competition agreement and, if so, will it stand up in court? Unfortunately, restrictive covenants in non-competition agreements are largely disfavored by the courts. The legal system favors free market competition unless an employer can show that the competitive restriction is reasonable (both in time and location) and that it has a compelling reason to seek enforcement. An employer often faces a costly and time-consuming uphill legal battle to enforce a restrictive covenant.

Read the entire article or download the Case Summary.

Maryland High Court Declines to Declare the 'Dinosaur' of Contributory Negligence Extinct

By: William Goldberg; Lerch, Early & Brewer (Maryland, USA)

To the great relief of defendants and liability insurers covering claims in Maryland, the Maryland Court of Appeals (the state’s highest court) recently declined to abrogate the common law doctrine of contributory negligence and replace it with a comparative negligence regime. Maryland thus remains one of only five jurisdictions (the others are Alabama, North Carolina, Virginia, and the District of Columbia) in which a plaintiff’s own negligence, however minor, completely bars recovery.

In Coleman v. Soccer Association of Columbia, the plaintiff was a 20-year-old soccer player who was severely injured when he jumped up and grabbed the goalpost crossbar after scoring a goal during practice. The goalpost was not anchored to the ground and it fell backward as the plaintiff held onto the crossbar, causing the weight of the crossbar to hit his face, injuring him severely. At trial, the plaintiff’s attorney requested a jury instruction on comparative negligence but the trial judge declined and instead instructed the jury on contributory negligence. The jury concluded that while the defendant’s negligence caused the plaintiff’s injuries, the plaintiff was also negligent and that his negligence caused, in part, his own injuries. That finding, under Maryland law, barred the plaintiff from any recovery.

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Dilemmas in Choosing the Venue of Arbitrations Following CIETAC Split: Validity of Venue Clauses

Contact: Vivien Chan & Co. (Hong Kong)

The China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission (CIETAC) is the largest arbitration commission in China and has been the favoured arbitration venue for international investors for years. However, the recent internal disputes between CIETAC headquarters ('Beijing CIETAC') and two of its sub-commissions in Shanghai ('Shanghai CIETAC') and Shenzhen ('SCIA') cast doubts on the validity of arbitral awards issued by Shanghai CIETAC and SCIA.

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Limit Costs, Delays in Business Litigation

Business litigation is often slow and very expensive. The good news is that companies may be able to do something about it.

Jaeckle Fleischmann & Mugel, LLP (Buffalo, New York, USA) Partner Heath Szymczak recently served as a guest columnist for the Buffalo Law Journal. His article describes historical trends, and recent developments, for creating practical, client-centered approaches to avoiding unnecessary costs and delays in business litigation.

Read the entire article.

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