Friday, October 30, 2020

Maryland Enacts New Laws Effective October 1, 2020

On October 1, Maryland enacted hundreds of new laws surrounding transportation and pedestrian safety, employment, criminal justice, business, education, elections, health, environment, and immigration. Below are summaries of some of those laws:

Criminal Law: HB 5 — Prohibits a person from placing an item or inscribing an item or a symbol, including an actual or depicted noose or swastika, whether temporary or permanent, on any real personal property, public, private, without the express permission of the owner, with the intent to threaten or intimidate any person or group of persons.

Equal Pay for Equal Work: HB 14 — Prohibits an employer from taking any adverse employment action against an employee for inquiring about the employee’s wages.

Motor Vehicle Administration: HB 46 — Repealed the MVA authority to suspend the registration of a motor vehicle if the owner or driver of the vehicle fails to pay the penalty assessed for certain violations recorded by a traffic control signal monitoring system or a speed monitoring system.

Labor and Employment, Injured Workers’ Insurance Fund: SB 616 — Requires, rather than authorizes, the Injured Workers’ Insurance Fund to be the third–party administrator for the State’s Self–Insured Workers’ Compensation Program for State Employees under a  contract with the State; authorizes the Fund to use nonsupervisory employees of the Chesapeake Employers’ Insurance Company; authorizes nonsupervisory employees of the Company to be assigned to perform certain functions under a certain contract; alters the membership of the Board for the Injured Workers’ Insurance Fund.

Private Passenger Motor Vehicle Insurance: HB 118 — Prohibits an insurer from canceling, refusing to renew, or otherwise terminating coverage for a private passenger motor vehicle insurance policy based on claims made under the policy’s towing or emergency roadside coverage; authorizes an insurer to remove towing or emergency roadside service coverage from a certain policy at renewal based on the number of claims pursuant to the towing coverage; and authorizes an insurer to increase a premium of a private passenger motor vehicle insurance policy as a result of certain claims.

Labor and Employment: HB 123 — Requires an employer, on request, to provide to an applicant for employment the wage range for the position for which the applicant applied; prohibits an employer from taking negative actions against an applicant for employment because the applicant did not provide wage history or a wage range; prohibits an employer from relying on wage history, except when voluntarily provided, for the purpose of determining fair wage, and from seeking an applicant’s wage history from former employers or their agents; etc.

Insurance – Uninsured or Enhanced Underinsured Motorist Coverage: HB 144 — Clarifies that certain motor vehicle liability insurance policies must contain coverage for damages, subject to the policy limits, that the insured is entitled to recover from the owner or operator of certain motor vehicles because of property damage, including the loss of the insured vehicle; and alters the amounts to which certain motorist coverage in certain policies must be equal.

Vehicle Laws – Registration Plate Frames and Border Enforcement: HB 200 — Provides for enforcement only as a secondary offense for a violation of the requirement to maintain vehicle registration plates to be free from foreign material and to be clearly legible.

Vehicle Laws – Overtaking and Passing Bicycles: HB 230 — Authorizes the driver of a vehicle to drive on the left side of the roadway in a no-passing zone to overtake and pass at a safe distance a bicycle traveling in the same direction in accordance with a certain provision of law and in a certain manner.

-Kelsey Lear, Law Clerk

Monday, October 19, 2020

Congratulations to Partner Tara Barnes Taylor on her Recent Recognition in the Maryland Bar Journal!

The Maryland Bar Journal recently featured Partner Tara Barnes Taylor as a part of its member spotlight in its latest issue, focusing on the Evolution of the Legal Profession.

The Journal highlighted her career, serving as an Assistant State’s Attorney in Baltimore City for seven years, followed by her transition to civil defense litigation at RSRM and becoming the Firm’s first female African American partner.

In addition to priding itself on its diversity, RSRM, which celebrated its 100th Anniversary in 2019, has also taken a thoughtful approach to protect the safety of its employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ms. Taylor discussed with the Journal, the measures that RSRM has taken to ensure that its attorneys and staff feel safe, such as working remotely on rotating days, maintaining active communication, and ascertaining the remote system could handle the changing work environment.

 Congratulations to Ms. Taylor on this recognition!

Image Courtesy of the Maryland Bar Journal 

Friday, October 9, 2020

SB0017 Seeks to Prohibit Insurers from Using Credit History to Determine Insurance Premiums

Bad credit can affect one’s life in many negative ways.  Soon, however, bad credit history may no longer have a negative impact on Marylanders, as it relates to motor vehicle insurance policies, thanks to Senate Bill 0017 (SB0017).  

Currently, subject to certain provisions, an insurer may use the credit history of an applicant, in whole or in part, to rate a new policy of private passenger motor vehicle insurance.  See Md. INSURANCE Code Ann. § 27-501(4).  Insurers “may not use a factor on the credit history of the applicant that occurred 5 years prior to the issuance of the new policy”; must “advise an applicant at the time of application that credit history is used”; and must “on the request of the applicant, provide a premium quotation that separately identifies the portion of the premium attributable to the applicant’s credit history.”  Id.  

SB0017 seeks to prohibit “an insurer, with respect to private passenger motor vehicle insurance, from rating a risk based, in whole or in part, on the credit history of an applicant or insured in any manner.”  See SB0017.  This amendment would no doubt be a welcome relief for Marylanders who might not have stellar credit history, so that this factor would not hinder their ability to obtain something as important as motor vehicle insurance.

--Letam Duson, Associate Attorney 

Friday, October 2, 2020

RSRM Congratulates its Attorneys on their Maryland Bar Foundation Fellowships!

Attorneys Letam Duson and Rima Kikani were recently nominated as Maryland Bar Foundation Fellows.

Attorneys and judges selected as Fellows have demonstrated outstanding dedication and contribution to maintaining the honor and integrity of the legal profession, the improvement and facilitation of the administration of justice, the work of the organized Bar of Maryland, and civic leadership.

Fellowship in the Maryland Bar Foundation (“MBF”) is by invitation only and restricted to outstanding Maryland attorneys and judges not exceeding 2.5% of membership of the Maryland State Bar Association (“MSBA”). New Fellows are nominated by current Fellows, and must be endorsed by the MBF Board of Directors.

MBF Fellows assist in providing support for law-related public service programs that would not otherwise be funded, and membership is considered a testament to these individuals’

commitment to making justice accessible and upholding the integrity of the legal profession.

Past recipients of MBF Fellowships include, but are not limited to, Former Chief Judge Robert Bell, Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera, Judge Lynn Battaglia, Judge Michele Hotten, and United States District Court Judges Catherine Blake and Ellen Hollander.

Ms. Duson and Ms. Kikani will be recognized at the MSBA Legal Excellence Week Awards Presentation in November 2020, as well as the MSBA Annual Meeting in June 2021. 

Congratulations to our attorneys!