Scope of Appeal: Freeland v. Clark

Kopec Law Firm

The Baltimore Medical Malpractice Lawyer Blog is a trusted resource for Maryland appellate cases. It delves into various personal injury areas, including those that intersect with medical malpractice. One such case is Freeland v. Clark Construction Group, LLC, No. 40 (Mar. 6, 2024), where the Appellate Court of Maryland issued an unreported opinion. Specifically, this case involves the scope of appeal. This a common issue of appealing from a denial of a post-trial motion rather than the underlying judgment.

The appellant, a subcontractor, sustained injuries in a utility hole accident. Afterward, the appellant filed a negligence complaint in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County. However, he failed to identify any expert witness in his discovery responses. Afterward, the defense filed a motion in limine to exclude any expert witnesses, which the court granted. Subsequently, the defense filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the appellant could not succeed without an expert. The circuit court granted this motion, leading to the appellant’s appeal, and the issue of scope of appeal.

Scope of Appeal Timing

The timing for scope of appeal is as follows. The circuit court entered the dismissal on September 29. On October 26, the appellant filed a motion for reconsideration, arguing that he did not need an expert witness, which the court denied on February 8. On March 7, the appellant then filed a notice of appeal. (Id. at 1-2).

Scope of Appeal
Scope of Appeal

Significantly, the Appellate Court first generally discussed the scope of appeal:

“Following entry of judgment in a trial court, a litigant seeking to revise or modify the order may file one of two post-trial motions: (1) a motion to alter or amend the judgment under Maryland Rule 2-534.; or (2) a motion for the court to exercise its revisory power pursuant to Maryland Rule 2-535. If a motion, however labeled, is filed more than ten days but less than thirty days after the entry of judgment, it will be treated as a motion under Maryland Rule 2-535. Pickett v. Noba, Inc., 114 Md. App. 552, 557 (1997).”


Then the Appellate Court specifically discussed the timing related to scope of appeal:

“Where the circuit court denies a motion to revise under Rule 2-535 and the party appeals that denial more than thirty days after the entry of the underlying judgment, as occurred here, the propriety of the underlying judgment is not before this Court. Id. at 558-59. Rather, the only question before this Court is whether the denial of the motion to have that judgment revised was an abuse of discretion. See Stuples v. Baltimore City Police Dep’t, 119 Md. App. 221, 240 (1998). An abuse of discretion is defined as “discretion manifestly unreasonable, or exercised on untenable grounds, or for untenable reasons.” In re Don Mc. 344 Md. 194, 201 (1996).”

The Appellate Court observed that the appellant did not argue that the circuit court had abused its discretion and upheld the circuit court’s refusal to exercise its revisory powers. (Op. at 3).

Commentary by the Baltimore Medical Malpractice Lawyer

The Appellate Court’s scope of review was limited to abuse of discretion because the appellant only appealed from the denial of the motion to revise the judgment, and not the underlying judgment. This crucial detail, however, which may have been unintentional, underscores the importance of timing in the filing of post-trial motions and notices of appeal.

Therefore, it is imperative to navigate post-trial motion practice and the filing of a notice of appeal with utmost care to ensure the intended scope of appeal. The appellate rules, a complex but necessary guide, are in Title 8 of the Maryland Rules. You can also find a comprehensive discussion of these rules on the appeal page of the litigation process section of this website.

Mark Kopec is a top-rated Baltimore medical malpractice lawyer. Contact us at 800-604-0704 to speak directly with Attorney Kopec in a free consultation. The Kopec Law Firm is in Baltimore and helps clients throughout Maryland and Washington, D.C. Thank you for reading the Baltimore Medical Malpractice Lawyer Blog.

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