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Case Information Report not acceptable “paper” for jury trial demand even if served.
Lisy Corp. v. McCormick & Co.
Available at: http://www.mdcourts.gov/opinions/coa/2015/8a15.pdf
Lisy Corp. (“Plaintiff”) filed suit against McCormick & Co., Inc., Mojave Foods Corp (“Defendants”) and Barry Adams in the Circuit Court for Howard County, alleging various contract and tort claims. Plaintiff also filed and served a separate Case Information Report (“CIR”) that elected a jury trial. There was no jury trial demand either contained in the Complaint, or in a separate “paper.” When the court clerk contacted the parties to set the trial in front of a jury, the Defendants moved to enforce the bench trial election. The motions judge granted the motion, holding that the Plaintiff had not complied with Rule 2-325(a) governing the method of request. Therefore, the Court held that the Plaintiff had waived her right to a jury trial. After Plaintiff was given the opportunity to file an interlocutory writ of mandamus, which was denied, a bench trial was conducted and a final judgment was entered.
The Plaintiff appealed the decision to the Court of Special Appeals. The Court of Special Appeals held that the trial court had correctly ruled that the right to a jury trial had been waived. The Plaintiff sought a writ of certiorari to the Court of Appeals, which was granted.
In holding that the trial court was correct, the Court of Appeals held that its decision in Duckett v. Riley, 428 Md. 471 (2012) was controlling. In Duckett, the plaintiff had failed to request a jury trial in the complaint or by way of a separate “paper,” but had noted an election for a jury trial in the CIR. The Court held that the CIR, which had never been served on the defendant, was an administrative document only and failed to provide the necessary notice of the jury trial election. Here, Plaintiff argued that Duckett was dissimilar because the CIR had been served and therefore, the Defendants were on notice of the jury trial election, and the CIR constituted a “separate paper” under Rule 2-325(a). The Court rejected the argument stating:
Id. at 15-16. The Court further noted that Rule 2-112, addressing service of the summons, treats the information report separately from the other papers to be served. The Court further rejected the Plaintiffs attempt to argue by analogy usingFederal Rule 38(b), finding that the Maryland Rule was more narrowly worded then the Federal analog, and the Maryland Rules were “precise rubrics that are mandatory.” Id. at 22. The CIR, as an administrative tool, was not a “paper” within Rule 3-325(a), even if it was served with the Complaint.
Judge MacDonald filed a dissent arguing that the Majority’s analysis was strained and was not in conformance with the legislative history behind the development of Rule 2-325. In his opinion, the service of the CIR noting a jury trial demand satisfied the criteria and purpose of Rule 2-325: documentation and timely notice.
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