September 9, 2015

MacDonald Law Group Succeeds in Obtaining Summary Judgment On Behalf of Alleged Gasket Supplier in Federal Court Mesothelioma Case

The U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, recently granted summary judgment in favor of an MLG client sued in the matter for alleged supply of asbestos-containing sheet gasket material for use in valves and other industrial equipment. Plaintiff Charles Haney claimed he developed mesothelioma as a result of exposure to asbestos-containing products, including sheet gasket material, while he served in the U.S. Navy as a machinist’s mate and while employed later as a civilian machinist in the construction of naval and merchant ships. In deposition testimony, Mr. Haney did not identify the sheet gasket material by brand name until his attorney specifically provided him with the name as part of a leading question, over objection by MLG. Upon completion of discovery, MLG attorneys Neil MacDonald and Dawn Gile moved for summary judgment, arguing that the identification of the brand of gasket material was inadmissible evidence because it was obtained pursuant to an improper leading question. Given the lack of any other evidence to support a claim as to the alleged gasket supplier, MLG attorneys contended that summary judgment should be entered in favor of its client as to all claims. The Honorable Marvin J. Garbis of the U.S. District Court agreed, finding that, “[t]he inquiry that resulted in Haney stating the name…was impermissibly leading, suggesting the desired answer,” and that therefore, “Plaintiffs have presented no evidence admissible at trial adequate to prove that Haney was exposed to asbestos in any product [for which the alleged gasket supplier was liable].”

 

March 16, 2015

Same Experienced Practice, New Location

We are pleased to announce MacDonald Law Group, LLC, is making the move to an expanded office space. Only our suite number has changed, making the new firm address: 11720 Beltsville Drive, Suite 1050, Beltsville, Maryland, 20705. Our telephone and facsimile numbers, as well as our email addresses, remain the same. We look forward to maintaining a location well-suited to our active legal practice in all jurisdictions of Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia.

 

July 25, 2013

MacDonald Law Group Successfully Secures Dismissal of a Mesothelioma Case on Forum Non Conveniens Grounds

On July 25, 2013, MLG successfully obtained dismissal of a mesothelioma case brought by Edward Vogel and his wife in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, on the grounds of forum non conveniens. Plaintiffs were Florida residents but brought suit in Baltimore. Mr. Vogel claimed he was exposed to asbestos while serving as a Merchant Mariner on board ships sailing through ports up and down the eastern seaboard, including the Port of Baltimore. Plaintiffs argued that substantial deference was due Plaintiffs' choice of forum and that, for a seaman such as Mr. Vogel, multiple jurisdictions, including Baltimore, were appropriate forums. Plaintiffs further pointed to historical rulings from this trial court overwhelmingly decided in favor of Plaintiffs on forum non conveniens motions in mesothelioma cases. MLG Attorney Neil MacDonald, assisted on the briefs by Rachelle Schofield and Maria Juambeltz, successfully convinced the court that the matter was inappropriate for Maryland adjudication and that the matter should have been brought elsewhere, most likely in Florida. Based upon MLG arguments, the court dismissed the case.

 

January 14, 2013

MacDonald Law Group Successfully Defends an Equipment Manufacturer on Liability Claims for Replacement Parts and External Insulation

On January 14, 2013, MLG successfully obtained a favorable ruling for a valve manufacturer on failure to warn claims brought by Phillip Royce May, a mesothelioma claimant, and his wife in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City. Plaintiffs sought to hold the valve manufacturer (as well as other equipment manufacturers) liable for, among other claims, failure to warn of the alleged dangers of asbestos in replacement gasket and packing used in conjunction with the valves, as well as for insulation installed external to the valves. While the valve manufacturer neither manufactured nor installed the replacement or external components, Plaintiffs claimed that the use of such components was foreseeable under the evidence in the case. Plaintiffs further claimed that rulings from certain jurisdictions across the country, as well as previous rulings from the court, permitted assessing responsibility for replacement parts and external insulation to equipment manufacturers. However, MLG attorneys Neil MacDonald and Rachelle Schofield pointed to more reasoned opinions on the issue out of Washington State and California, as well as the Ford Motor Company v. Wood case out of the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland. MLG succeeded in convincing the court to grant judgment to the valve manufacturer on such claims, despite the fact that this particular judge had twice previously ruled in favor of the Plaintiffs' position and denied equipment manufacturers' motions for summary judgment. Plaintiffs have appealed this ruling to the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland.

 

January 1, 2013

Laura Gaba joins MacDonald Law Group

On January 1, 2013, Laura Gaba joined MacDonald Law Group. Laura brings her years of legal experience, particularly in the fields of products liability and toxic tort, to the MacDonald Law Group team. In 2005, Laura began her legal career working with Neil MacDonald and Rachelle Schofield at their prior law practice, before leaving to join DeHay & Elliston, a Baltimore civil defense litigation firm. Laura has remained in the field of litigation for over 7 years.

Laura is admitted to practice law in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia.

 

December 10, 2012

Maria Juambeltz Joins MacDonald Law Group

On December 10, 2012, Maria Juambeltz joined MacDonald Law Group as an associate attorney. Maria is a 2012 graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Law, where she graduated cum laude and served as Staff Writer for the school's Journal of Law and Technology. During and after law school, Maria served in a variety of internships. Maria will be assisting the firm in its toxic tort and product liability practice areas.

 

January 16, 2011

MacDonald Law Group, LLC Opens Its Doors!

On January 16, 2011, the civil litigation firm of MacDonald Law Group, LLC opened its doors, committed to providing its clients with the highest quality legal services in the Mid- Atlantic region. The firm was established when Neil MacDonald, Rachelle Schofield, Dawn Gile and Katherine Lawler departed their former law firm to form MacDonald Law Group. Within a few short weeks after its opening, Vince Palmiotto joined the group, bringing another seasoned litigator to the practice.

MacDonald Law Group maintains a location convenient to the Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan area, and its attorneys regularly practice in the state and federal courts throughout Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. In addition, the firm has attorneys admitted to practice in West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Illinois.

MacDonald Law Group's five attorneys and four paralegals provide clients with the highest caliber of legal representation. The firm's lawyers have vast litigation experience, comparable to that of a larger firm, enabling MacDonald Law Group to successfully handle the most complex of cases, while maintaining the flexibility and cost-effectiveness of a smaller practice. To see the difference MacDonald Law Group can make, contact any of the firm's attorneys.

 

October 19, 2010

Neil J. MacDonald Successfully Defends Crane Brake Manufacturer Before the Maryland Court of Appeals

In the recent opinion of Reiter v. Pneumo Abex, LLC, the Maryland Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court's granting of summary judgment to three crane brake manufacturer defendants in several asbestos-related personal injury cases. Reiter arose out of the consolidated appeal of multiple plaintiffs who had been employed as steel workers in various discrete areas of the Bethlehem Steel Sparrows Point steel mill, a vast site comprising multiple mills and several square miles. Though the plaintiffs neither operated nor repaired cranes as part of their jobs at the mill, they alleged that asbestos fibers originating from the defendants' brake linings used on overhead industrial cranes had 'rained down' upon them and caused them asbestos-related injuries.

Neil MacDonald, on behalf of one of the crane brake defendants, successfully obtained summary judgment for his client at the trial level, and later argued before the Court of Appeals that the mere fact that a company's brake product was used on isolated cranes somewhere in a colossal steel-making plant is legally insufficient to link that company's component part with plaintiffs' injuries. He further posited that the Sparrows Point mill was an extremely dusty facility in general, due to the dust and debris associated with the steel-making process, which incorporated a number of varied asbestos-containing products in its manufacture. Mr. Mac- Donald argued that the Reiter plaintiffs' evidence was wholly inadequate to prove which manufacturer's crane brake may have emitted asbestos dust with sufficient proximity, frequency, and regularity to have injured a particular Reiter plaintiff.

The Court of Appeals agreed and ruled that more precise information as to particular location within the Sparrows Point facility, and proximity to a certain manufacturer's crane brake would be required to prove injurious exposure. The Court held that the Reiter plaintiffs' specific job sites were limited to those areas in the mill where the plaintiffs worked on a day-to-day basis, and that it was insufficient to merely prove that the crane brake defendants manufactured products that were located somewhere on the premises of the vast, overarching mill. Instead, the Court held that asbestos personal injury plaintiffs have to identify a particular defendant's product in the same limited area of a job site in which the plaintiffs actually worked. Since the Reiter plaintiffs failed to produce evidence to specify which of several crane brake defendants' products were used on equipment in the same limited area in which they actually worked, the Court upheld the lower courts' decision that the defendants were entitled to summary judgment.

Reiter v. Pneumo Abex, LLC, No. 72 (Md. November 19, 2010). The written opinion of the Maryland Court of Appeals can be found at http://mdcourts.gov/opinions/coa/2010/72a08.pdf. DOWNLOAD PDF

The videotaped oral argument, which took place on January 13, 2009, can be located at http://www.courts.state.md.us/coappeals/webcastarchive2008term.html. GO TO SITE