Appellate Representation

Eccleston and Wolf has vast experience with Appellate Representation in the Maryland, District of Columbia, and Virginia State and Federal Appellate Courts. All of the senior attorneys at Eccleston and Wolf have handled numerous appeals, from briefing through oral argument, on a variety of issues.

Eccleston and Wolf has been involved in the appellate proceedings involving  significant tort principals such as the application of the affirmative defenses of contributory negligence and assumption of the risk, in both casualty cases as well as professional liability cases. The firm’s principals have litigated appeals involving professional negligence and alleged violations of the code of professional conduct, the statute of limitations and the application of the discovery rule, the ability of non-clients to sue a professional, and the necessity of expert testimony to establish proximate causation of damages.

Clients have been represented on appeal in defense of their license to practice law. The firm has represented insurance company clients on coverage disputes, including the application of the “four corners’ doctrine, the duty to defend, and the application of various exclusions found in Commercial General Liability policies, Professional Liability policies, and automobile liability policies.

Notable Reported Appellate Decisions

Principals of Tort Liability

Reuber v. Food Chemical News, 925 F.2d 703 (4th Cir. 1991) (the Fourth Circuit (sitting en banc) reversed a verdict for defamation and invasion of privacy against a news publication and broadened the definition of “public figure”);

Doe v. Maskell, 342 Md. 684 (1996) (the Court of Appeals held that the recovery of repressed memory does not trigger Maryland’s delayed discovery rule, nor is repressed memory a statutory disability that tolls the statute of limitations);

Woodruff v. Trepel, 125 Md. App. 381 (1999) (the Court applied the absolute privilege that participants in judicial proceeding have against defamation claims for statements made in connection with the judicial proceedings);

Inlet Associates v. Harrison Inn Inlet, Inc., 324 Md. 238 (1991) (the Court of Appeals set forth the elements of a claim for filing or maintaining a claim without substantial justification and/or in bad faith);

Deitz v. Paligos, 120 Md. App. 380 (1998) and Douglas v. First Security Federal Savings Bank, Inc., 101 Md. App. 170 (1994) (the Court addressed and expanded on the application of the doctrines of res judicata and collateral estoppel);

Mansfield v. Bernabei (the Virginia Supreme Court adopted the Restatement (Second) of Torts rule concerning the application of the absolute judicial privilege against defamation and held that the absolute privilege can apply to statements made preliminary to the filing of litigation).

Legal Malpractice and Other Professional Negligence

Howard Street Jewelers v. Wegad, 326 Md. 409 (1992) (the Court of Appeals recognized the defense of contributory negligence in an accountant malpractice case);

Flaherty v. Weinberg, 303 Md. 116 (1985) (The Court of Appeals limited the ability of non-clients to sue an attorney):

Thomas v. Bethea, 351 Md. 513 (1998) (the Court set forth the elements, including the measure of damages, in a legal malpractice claim arising out an alleged negligent settlement advice)

Parler & Wobber v. Miles & Stockbridge, 359 Md. 671 (2000) (the Court of Appeals recognized the ability of a discharged attorney sued for malpractice to file a contribution/indemnity claim against successor counsel)

Stone v. Chicago Title, 330 Md. 329 (1993) (the Court of Appeals explicated and reinforced the foreseeability requirement in a legal malpractice case)

Royal Insurance Co. v. Miles & Stockbridge, 133 F.Supp.2d 747 (D.Md. 2001) and 138 F.Supp.2d. 695 (D.Md. 2001) (the Federal Court, applying Maryland law, addressed the issues of expert testimony in a negligent settlement case, the requirement of establishing proximate causation and the defense of contributory negligence in a legal malpractice claim)

Berringer v. Steele, 133 Md. App. 442 (2000) (the Court of Special Appeals set forth the elements of a legal malpractice claim against a criminal defense attorney)

Taylor v. Feisner, 103 Md. App. 356 (1995) (the Court of Special Appeals addressed the necessity of establishing proximate causation in a legal malpractice claim)

Hooper v. Gill, 79 Md. App. 437 (1989) (the Court set forth the contours and the various requirements of maintaining a legal malpractice action under Maryland law)

Kirgan v. Parks, 60 Md. App. 1 (1984); Noble v. Bruce, 349 Md. 730 (1998) and Ferguson v. Cramer, 349 Md. 760 (1998) (the Maryland Courts defined the scope of liability for will drafting attorneys and personal representatives of an estate);

Humphrey v. Herridge, 103 Md. 238 (1995) (the Court addressed an attorney’s liability for abuse of process, malicious prosecution and conversion);

Edwards v. Demedis, 118 Md. App. 541 (1997) (the Court applied the statute of limitations to a legal malpractice action);

District of Columbia of Mills v. Cooter, 647 A.2d 1118 (1994) (the District of Columbia Court of Appeals held that an attorney cannot be sued for refusing in good faith to bring a claim the attorney believes lacks merit)

Insurance Coverage

Berkley v. The Home Insurance Company, 314 U.S. App. D.C. 358, 68 F.3d 1409 (D.C. 1995) (the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia found that a breach of the code of professional conduct can constitute a dishonest act for purposes of the intentional and criminal misconduct exclusion in a malpractice policy);

Howard v. Montgomery Mutual, 145 Md. App. 549 (2002) (the Court of Special Appeals addressed the standing of a tort victim to file a declaratory judgment action directly against the insurer);

Superformance Int’l, Inc. v. Hartford Cas. Ins. Co., 332 F.3d 215 (4th Cir. 2003) (the Fourth Circuit reaffirmed that Virginia follows the “four corners” doctrine to determine whether an obligation to provide coverage exists and concluded that the insurance policy excluded coverage for trademark infringement claims)

For a further listing of representative cases, please click here.

Contact Us About Appellate Representation

If you would like further information or wish to retain the firm, please contact the firm’s managing partner, Edward J. Hutchins, Jr., and its senior member, Alvin I. Frederick. (Click here for a direct link via email to Ed Hutchins and Al Frederick.)