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Judge sides with property owners in Maryland pier lawsuit

A group of property owners based in Solomons Island will be able to legally build a proposed commercial pier near their land following a ruling by a circuit court judge. The judge agreed with the seven landowners' assertion that the state of Maryland and Calvert County violated the group's contractual rights by refusing to allow the construction of the pier.

The civil litigation at the center of the case concerns several right-of-way agreements dating back to 1957. The Maryland State Roads Commission granted approximately 34 Solomons Island landowners the right to "construct, maintain or repair any pier structure" near their properties in exchange for the release of land needed by the state for a highway project.

When the state denied an application to construct a commercial pier filed by one of the original property owner's successor, he and six other local landowners filed a civil lawsuit against the state and county. In that lawsuit, the plaintiffs claimed that the defendants violated their contractual rights as outlined in the 1957 agreement. Maryland transferred the original deeds, as well as all of the agreements to the county in 1998 and 2001, but the plaintiffs argued that the deeds stipulate the rights granted to the landowners should remain intact regardless of any such transfers.

In rejecting the plaintiff's application, the Maryland Department of the Environment noted several deficiencies that caused it to stop considering the request. While the plaintiff said that he could address those deficiencies and resubmit its application, he and his fellow landowners decided to pursue litigation when the MDE claimed that it was subject to the 1957 contract.

While the judge agreed the defendants violated the plaintiffs' rights by failing to abide by the 1957 contract, he reserved judgment on the suit's accompanying claims of anticipatory breach of contract. Similarly, he did not rule on the plaintiffs' request for compensatory damages, delaying those issues until the case returns to the court in July.

If you believe you have suffered as a result of a breach of contract or other business legal issue, contact an experienced business attorney to discuss your options.

SoMdNews, "Ruling favors Solomons property owners for pier construction" Kate Fitzpatrick, Jun. 19, 2013

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