Rich & Henderson Secures Reversal by Court of Appeals That Non-Parties Cannot Collaterally Attack Judicially Enrolled Consent Order and Circuit Courts do not Have Subject Matter Jurisdiction to Hear Consent Orders from Other Circuits
The Maryland Court of Appeals reversed the Court of Special Appeals in an Opinion published on February 22, 2013. Kent Island LLC, represented by Rich & Henderson, had entered into a Consent Order in the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County terminating previous litigation for the proposed Cloisters subdivision in Stevensville, MD. A local organization and residents of Queen Anne’s County sought to invalidate the Consent Order in the Circuit Court for Queen Anne’s County. The Circuit Court transferred the case to Anne Arundel County and the Consent Order was upheld. On appeal, the Court of Special Appeals vacated the lower court’s decision and ordered that the case be transferred back to Queen Anne’s County so that the Circuit Court in that county could review the Consent Order.
Rich & Henderson attorneys Mark Gabler and Aminah Famili drafted briefs to the Court of Appeals and Warren Rich argued the case before the Court on November 29, 2012. The Court reversed the Court of Special Appeals and held that the Consent Order was a final, enrolled judgment by the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County. The Court also clarified that generally, circuit courts do not possess jurisdiction to review, modify, or overrule Consent Orders entered by another circuit court.
Maryland Office of Administrative Hearings Dismisses MDE’s Attempt to Assess Administrative Fines Under Maryland Environment Article
On February 18th, 2013, the Maryland Office of Administrative Hearings dismissed an action brought by the Maryland Department of the Environment alleging violations of Title 4, Water Management, of the Maryland Environment Article, for actions performed on wetlands on private property. MDE attempted to assess fines of $100,000 as authorized under Title 4. However, that Title only pertains to “waters of the State.” The statutory scheme related to wetlands is located in Title 9 of the Environment Article and has its own enforcement provisions. The Administrative Law Judge found that the definition of “waters of the State” did not encompass wetlands, and MDE could not assess fines under Title 4 for actions based solely on wetlands. Therefore, the action was dismissed because MDE could not establish that the wetlands on-site met the statutory definition of “waters of the State” as required under Title 4. Mark Gabler managed the administrative action before the Office of Administrative Hearings.