Pinner v. Pinner, 16, Sept. Term, 2019

CourtCourt of Special Appeals of Maryland
Citation225 A.3d 433,467 Md. 463
Docket NumberNo. 16, Sept. Term, 2019,16, Sept. Term, 2019
Parties Randy R. PINNER v. Mona H. PINNER, et al.
Decision Date03 March 2020

467 Md. 463
225 A.3d 433

Mona H. PINNER, et al.

No. 16, Sept. Term, 2019

Court of Appeals of Maryland.

March 3, 2020

Argued by Howard J. Schulman (Wright, Constable & Skeen, LLP, Baltimore, MD), on brief, for Petitioner.

Argued by Linda M. Schuett (Linda Schuett Law of Crownsville, MD), on brief, for Respondents.

Barbera, C.J., McDonald, Watts, Hotten, Getty, Booth, Alan M. Wilner (Senior Judge, Specially Assigned), JJ.

Booth, J.

467 Md. 469

This case requires the determination of whether the Circuit Court for Baltimore City erred in exercising in personam jurisdiction over the defendant, Mona Pinner, a North Carolina resident. The case was filed by Randy Pinner, Mona's1 stepson, who is also a North Carolina resident. In the proceedings below, Randy obtained a default judgment against Mona, in the amount of nearly $100,000.

Prior to the instant litigation, Edwin Pinner, Mona's late husband and Randy's father, and Mona, filed suit in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, seeking damages for personal injuries caused by Edwin's asbestos exposure (the "Asbestos Case"). After Edwin's death from mesothelioma, the Asbestos Case was converted to a wrongful death and survival action on behalf of Mona, individually, and as personal representative of the Estate of Edwin F. Pinner ("the Estate"). Mona and Edwin were represented by Mary H. Keyes, Esq., and the Keyes Law Firms, LLC (collectively,

225 A.3d 437

"the Keyes Defendants"). Approximately two years after the Asbestos Case was filed, by agreement with Ms. Keyes, the law firm of Napoli Bern Ripka Shkolnick & Associates, LLP ("the Napoli Firm") assumed responsibility for the case.

After Mona added a wrongful death claim to the Asbestos Case, she failed to timely serve notice on Randy, pursuant to Maryland Rule 15-1001, and she did not name him as a use plaintiff. When Randy was subsequently notified of the suit, he moved to intervene, but was barred from doing so by the statute of limitations. Mona settled the Asbestos Case with certain defendants, and she received settlement proceeds, but

467 Md. 470

did not deposit those funds into Edwin's Estate in North Carolina.

Consequently, Randy filed the instant action in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City asserting claims of negligence against Mona, the Keyes Defendants, and the Napoli Defendants, as well as claims for aiding and abetting, negligent retention and supervision, and respondeat superior against some of the Keyes Defendants and the Napoli Defendants. The circuit court granted motions to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted against the Keyes Defendants and the Napoli Defendants.

Mona failed to respond and Randy's request for an order of default was granted. After Mona unsuccessfully moved to vacate the order of default, the court held a damages inquisition hearing over two days, determined that it had personal jurisdiction over Mona, and entered a default judgment in favor of Randy for $99,856.84.

In a reported opinion, the Court of Special Appeals reversed the circuit court's decision with respect to the finding of personal jurisdiction and remanded the case with direction that the circuit court vacate the default judgment and enter an order dismissing the claims against Mona for lack of jurisdiction. Pinner v. Pinner , 240 Md. App. 90, 98, 201 A.3d 26 (2019). The Court of Special Appeals affirmed the dismissal of the claims against the Keyes Defendants and the Napoli Defendants. Id.

Randy petitioned for writ of certiorari , which we granted to consider the following question, which we have rephrased:2

467 Md. 471
Did the circuit court err by exercising personal jurisdiction over Mona?

For the reasons set forth within, we hold that the circuit court erred in exercising personal jurisdiction over Mona and we affirm the decision of the Court of Special Appeals.


The Court of Special Appeals succinctly summarized the relevant facts in its reported opinion in the present case, Pinner , 240 Md. App. at 98–103, 201 A.3d 26, which we paraphrase as follows.

In 1952 and 1953, Edwin Pinner was exposed to asbestos while working at an insulating plant in Baltimore, Maryland. In August 2009, Edwin was diagnosed with mesothelioma. He lived with his wife, Mona, in North Carolina. Edwin had one

225 A.3d 438

biological son, Randy, from a prior marriage who also lives in North Carolina.

On February 23, 2010, Edwin and Mona, through counsel3 , filed suit in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City against numerous defendants, including two of Edwin's former employers headquartered in Baltimore City—Continental Wire and Inland Steel—alleging that he had been directly exposed to asbestos while working for those companies. During discovery, Edwin and Mona identified Randy as Edwin's only biological son in answers to interrogatories.

In October 2010, eight months after suit was filed, Edwin died from mesothelioma. In December 2010, Mona was appointed personal representative of Edwin's Estate in the General Court of Justice, Superior Court Division, Buncombe County, North Carolina. She listed the Asbestos Case as property of the Estate.

467 Md. 472

Two and one-half years after Edwin died, on April 24, 2013, Mona, through counsel, amended her complaint to add a claim for wrongful death. In Maryland, "[o]nly one action" shall lie for the wrongful death of a person and it "shall be for the benefit of the wife, husband, parent and child of the deceased person." Md. Code (1974, 2013 Repl. Vol., 2019 Cum. Supp.), Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article ("CJ"), § 3-904(a)(1) ; (f). Pursuant to Maryland Rule 15-1001(b), "[a]ll persons who are or may be entitled by law to claim damages by reason of the wrongful death shall be named as plaintiffs whether or not they join in the action." If a potential wrongful death beneficiary is not joined in the action, the words "to the use of" should precede their name. Md. Rule 15-1001(b). The party bringing the wrongful death action is required to serve a copy of the complaint on each use plaintiff, along with a notice explaining their right to join the action. Md. Rule 15-1001(d). Randy was not named as a use plaintiff in the amended complaint nor was he served with a copy of the amended complaint or the notice required by Maryland Rule 15-1001(d).4

Over a year later, in June 2014, two of the defendants in the Asbestos Case moved to dismiss the wrongful death count of the amended complaint on the ground that Mona had failed to

467 Md. 473

name Randy as a use plaintiff. In response to that motion, in

225 A.3d 439

July 2014, Mona, through counsel, filed by consent a second amended complaint. The second amended complaint substituted Mona, individually and as personal representative of the Estate, as the only plaintiff, and added Randy as a use plaintiff in the wrongful death count. In July 2014, three years and eight months after Edwin's death, Mona, through counsel, served Randy with a copy of the complaint and the Rule 15-1001(d) notice. Within 60 days, Randy moved to intervene in the Asbestos Case. The defendants opposed his intervention on the ground that his claim was barred by the applicable statute of limitations. In October 2014, the circuit court entered an order permitting Randy to intervene for the limited purpose of conducting discovery related to the statute of limitations issue. In July 2015, the circuit court entered an order denying his motion to intervene as being barred by the applicable statute of limitations.


In January 2016, Randy filed the instant case against Mona and her attorneys in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City. Randy alleged sixteen counts against Mona and her attorneys5 based on their failure to name him as a use plaintiff and provide him with notice of the wrongful death action under Maryland Rule 15-1001. Although both Randy and Mona resided in North Carolina and the law firms were organized in New York and Delaware, Randy filed the suit in Maryland.

467 Md. 474

Randy alleged personal jurisdiction over the parties under Maryland's long arm statute, CJ § 6-103.

Counts I, II, and IV pertained to Mona, individually and as personal representative of the Estate. Count I asserted that Mona negligently failed to name Randy as a use plaintiff in violation of Maryland Rule 15-1001. Count II alleged that she breached her fiduciary duties as personal representative of the Estate under North Carolina law by failing to provide notice under Maryland Rule 15-1001 and failing to distribute a share of the settlement monies from the Asbestos Case to Randy, a statutory beneficiary of the Estate. Count IV alleged that Mona was...

To continue reading

Request your trial
4 cases
  • Attorney Grievance Comm'n of Md. v. Milton
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • March 3, 2020
    ...similar, but less egregious, violations by attorneys. In Attorney Grievance Comm'n v. Rose , we suspended indefinitely an attorney, with a 225 A.3d 433 right to seek reinstatement after six months, where the attorney failed to produce requested financial documentation to explain an overdraf......
  • Blessing v. Sandy Spring Bank
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • February 19, 2021
    ...Md. Rule 2-322(b)(2). We review the grant of such a motion without deference. Pinner v. Pinner, 240 Md. App. 90, 113 (2019), aff'd, 467 Md. 463 (2020). In so doing, we presume the truth of all well-pled facts in the complaint, as well as any reasonable inferences drawn therefrom. Parker v. ......
  • Dominion Mech. Contractors v. E.C. Ernst, Inc.
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • March 24, 2022
    ...the court did not have personal jurisdiction over them, the appeal turns on a question of law, which we review de novo. Pinner v. Pinner, 467 Md. 463, 477 (2020). Once a circuit court has entered a default judgment, Maryland law imposes strict limits on that court's ability to revise the ju......
  • Beltway Paving Co. v. PRUCO Life Ins. Co.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Maryland)
    • September 6, 2022
    ...while general jurisdiction requires “more persistent contacts with the State.” Pinner v. Pinner, 201 A.2d 26, 36 (Md.App. 2019), aff'd 225 A.3d 433 (Md. 2020). Beltway argues that this Court can exercise both general and specific jurisdiction over Mr. Moore's Estate. Opp. at 5. Because the ......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT