Monday, February 12, 2024

RSRM Welcomes Associate Audreina Blanding!





Audreina J. Blanding graduated summa cum laude from the University of Baltimore School of Law in 2023 and graduated from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in 2016 with a B.A. in Economics.  While attending law school, Audreina clerked for the Office of the Maryland Attorney General, Court and Judicial Affairs Division, as well as served as the 2022-23 Linda Kennedy Economic Justice Fellow with the Homeless Persons Representation Project ("HPRP"). 

Ms. Blanding was also a competing member of the National Trial Competition Team and helped her team place 2nd at the 2022 Buffalo-Niagara Trial Competition.  During her final semester of law school, Audreina had the unique opportunity to prepare a comprehensive assessment of North Korea's human rights obligations on behalf of the United Nations - a paper for which she was awarded 1st Place in the 2023 Center for International and Comparative Law Essay Competition. 

Upon graduation, Ms. Blanding was inducted into the Heuisler Honor Society for graduating within the top 10% of her class.  Immediately following law school, Audreina briefly served as the judicial law clerk for the Honorable Shirley M. Watts of the Maryland Supreme Court.  Outside of the office, Ms. Blanding enjoys traveling, cooking, and trying new restaurants.  

Thursday, January 25, 2024

 The Appellate Court of Maryland affirms dismissal of wrongful death suit holding that the Worker's Compensation Act is the exclusive remedy for non-dependent tort actions. 

Summer Ledford v. Jenway Contracting, Inc.

Appellate Court of Maryland, filed. November 30, 2023 (Wright, J.)

        In Ledford v. Jenway Contracting, the Appellate Court of Maryland considered whether the Worker’s Compensation Act barred a non-dependent from bringing a wrongful death tort action against the decedent’s employer. Ultimately, the Appellate Court held that the Act barred the non-dependent’s tort action and affirmed the Circuit Court’s dismissal of the wrongful death suit.

        The case arose from the appellant’s late father’s tragic death that occurred while he was working for the Appellee. It was undisputed that the father’s death “arose out of and in the course of his employment.” The Appellant, the decedent’s forty-seven-year-old daughter, had no right to benefits under the Worker’s Compensation Act as she was not a dependent of her late father. She filed a wrongful death negligence action against the appellee-employer in the Circuit Court for Baltimore County. The employer thereafter moved to dismiss the action, contending that the Appellant had no viable tort action against the employer because the Worker’s Compensation Act provided the “exclusive” remedy for damages stemming from her decedent-father’s work-related injury.  The Circuit Court agreed and dismissed the Appellant’s action for failure to state a claim.

        On Appeal, the Appellate Court of Maryland traced the history of the Worker’s Compensation Act, enacted in 1914. Prior to the Worker’s Compensation Act, the worker could sue the employer for negligence and the employer could likewise assert defenses such as contributory negligence and assumption of the risk.  The Act’s passage reflected a “compromise between employees’ rights to pursue common law and other statutory damages for their injuries, and the burden to employers of having to provide workers’ compensation benefits.” See Hauch v. Connor, 295 Md. 120, 127 (1983)). Under the Act, the employer is required to pay, regardless of fault. In exchange, the employer is shielded from common law liability as the Act is the exclusive remedy for injured employees and their dependents, also referred to as the “exclusivity provision.” There are two exceptions to the exclusivity provision: 1) where an employer fails to provide compensation in accordance with the Act and 2) where an employer deliberately injures or kills a covered employee. Neither exception applied to the circumstances before the Ledford court.

        While acknowledging that neither Maryland appellate court has encountered the precise issue (whether the exclusivity provision applies to a non-dependent), the Ledford court recognized that Maryland’s appellate courts have considered “whether a wrongful death plaintiff is permitted to bring a wrongful death claim when a covered employee is killed in the course of his or her employment.” The court cited two examples, Koche v. Cox and Austin v. Thrifty Diversified, Inc., both standing for the proposition that, where an injury arises out of or in the course of employment, the sole remedy is the Worker’s Compensation Act. Applying these cases and the language of the Act to the Appellant’s circumstances, the court concluded that the appellee-employer’s liability was “exclusively within the worker’s compensation act” and further reasoned that when a covered employee is injured or killed in the course of his or her employment, the employer’s liability and any recovery resulting from that liability is exclusive to the Act, regardless of whether an otherwise proper wrongful death plaintiff is entitled to benefits under the Act.” (emphasis added).

-Joseph Kavanaugh, Associate

Tuesday, January 9, 2024

RSRM Welcomes Law Clerk Sean Delaney!

Sean is a current 2L at the University of Baltimore School of Law. There he is a staff editor of the University of Baltimore Law Review. His prior legal experience includes an internship with the U.S. Army JAG office at Fort Detrick. He also has experience serving as a legal writing fellow and law scholar for Civil Procedure II and Property. Sean is a 2022 graduate of the University of Maryland, where he majored in Information Science and Criminal Justice.

Welcome to the Team!

Monday, January 8, 2024

Congratulations to RSRM's 2024 Maryland Super Lawyers

 Congratulations to the five RSRM attorneys who were selected to Maryland's 2024 Super Lawyers!

Managing Partner James Andersen was selected as a 2024 Super Lawyer in the area of Personal Injury. Mr. Andersen has 30 years of litigation experience and has served as the Firm’s Managing Partner since 2014. He handles a variety of litigation matters including transportation, products liability, premises liability, construction litigation, and insurance coverage and defense. He has been selected as a Maryland Super Lawyer consistently since 2017.
Partner Paul Donoghue was selected as a 2024 Super Lawyer in Workers’ Compensation. Mr. Donoghue has served as a Partner at RSRM since 1998 and handles workers’ compensation and general litigation/liability matters. He has been selected as a Maryland Super Lawyer in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2020, 2021, 2022, and 2023.
Partner Tara Barnes was selected as a 2024 Super Lawyer in Civil Defense Litigation. Ms. Barnes has served as a Partner at RSRM since 2016 and works on premises liability, products liability, construction litigation, and insurance coverage and defense matters. She has been selected as a Maryland Rising Star Attorney from 2015 through 2018, and a Maryland Super Lawyer in 2023 and 2024.
Partner Benjamin Beasley was selected as a 2024 Rising Star in Civil Defense Litigation. Mr. Beasley has served as a Partner at RSRM since 2022 and works on premises liability, products liability, and insurance coverage and defense matters. He has been named as a Maryland Rising Star Attorney consistently since 2022.
Associate Ashley Bond was selected as a 2024 Rising Star in Civil Defense Litigation. Mrs. Bond will be an eighth-year associate in 2024 and works on insurance coverage and defense, construction litigation, appellate cases, and workers’ compensation matters. She has been named as a Maryland Rising Star Attorney consistently since 2021.
Each year, approximately five percent (5%) of Maryland attorneys are selected as "Super Lawyers" and two-and-a-half percent (2.5%) are selected as "Rising Stars.”