Women and Justice: Court: Maryland Supreme Court

Domestic Case Law

Suter v. Stuckey Maryland Supreme Court (2007)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

Suter filed a petition for a temporary protective order, alleging boyfriend committed various violent acts against her. The court issued the temporary protective order and entered a final protective order five days later by consent. Stuckey, Suter’s boyfriend, later filed an appeal of the final protective order. Suter filed a motion to dismiss the appeal, arguing the appeal was time-barred, and Stuckey was estopped from appealing a consent judgment. The court held that the appeal was moot because the protective order had expired; however, it concluded that the issue was one capable of repetition yet evading review, and implicated an important public policy; it therefore examined the merits of the case. The Court held that boyfriend did not have the right to appeal a protective order entered by consent.

Ruffin Hotel Corp. v. Gasper Maryland Supreme Court (2011)

Sexual harassment

Respondent sought damages from petitioner and Irman Ahmed, who terminated Respondent’s employment. Respondent brought, inter alia, claims of negligent hiring and retention against Ruffin Corp. and intentional infliction of emotional distress by Ahmed; employment discrimination and 13 by Ruffin and retaliation by Ruffin. Gasper alleged that Ruffin hotel hired Ahmed, despite its knowledge that a number of employees had complained of his abusive behavior, behavior that included 13. She also alleged that Ahmed refused to intervene when she was harassed by another employee and that he fired her after she complained of the harassment. The court held that petitioner’s claim for negligent hiring and retention, due to her allegation that Ruffin hired an individual against whom allegations of 13 had been made, was not preempted by Title VII, the Maryland Human Relations Act, a county code provision prohibiting retaliation for complaining of 13 or the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Act. It also found that the rule prohibiting introduction of evidence of other crimes was only applicable in criminal, not civil cases; however, Gasper could not introduce evidence of harassment by Ahmed occurring prior to Ahmed’s rehire because her current allegation was against another employee.

Aleem v. Aleem Maryland Supreme Court (2008)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Gender discrimination

Court held that divorce obtained by husband under Islamic religious and secular Pakistani law would not be recognized and afforded comity in Maryland. Petitioner argued that because he performed “talaq,” (which under Islamic law, allows a husband to divorce his wife by stating “I divorce thee” three times) the Circuit Court for Montgomery County lacked jurisdiction “to litigate the division of the parties’ marital property.” “The trial court found that the marriage contract entered into on the day of the parties’ marriage in Pakistan specifically did not provide for the division of marital property and thus, for that reason alone, the agreement did not prohibit the Circuit Court for Montgomery County from dividing the parties’ marital property under Maryland law.” The Court of Special Appeals agreed and stated, “[t]hus, the Pakistani marriage contract in the instant matter is not to be equated with a premarital or post-marital agreement that validly relinquished, under Maryland law, rights in marital property.” It explained that the default under Pakistan law is that the wife does not have rights to marital property, while under Maryland law she does. Applying Pakistani law, according to the court, would violate Maryland public policy. The court also noted that a “procedure that permits a man (and him only unless he agrees otherwise) to evade a divorce action begun in this State by rushing to the embassy of a country recognizing talaq and, without prior notice to the wife . . . summarily terminate the marriage and deprive his wife of marital property, confers insufficient due process to his wife. Accordingly, for this additional reason the courts of Maryland shall not recognize the talaq divorce performed here.”