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Llanten v. Cedar Ridge Counseling Centers, LLC

Court of Special Appeals of Maryland

September 9, 2013

TONIA BRAVO LLANTEN
v.
CEDAR RIDGE COUNSELING CENTERS, LLC

Kehoe, Nazarian, Kenney, James A., III (Retired, Specially Assigned) JJ.

OPINION

Kehoe, J.

Tonia Bravo Llanten appeals from a judgment by the Circuit Court for Carroll County dismissing her complaint against Cedar Ridge Counseling Centers, LLC. Llanten presents three issues, which we have reworded and consolidated:[1]

1)Did the circuit court err by dismissing Llanten's complaint on the ground that the claims asserted therein were barred by the statute of limitations?
2)Did the circuit court err by denying Llanten's motion to revise the judgment without holding a requested hearing?

Answering both questions in the negative, we affirm.

Background

We read Llanten's complaint "assuming all well-pleaded facts and reasonable inferences drawn therefrom in a light most favorable to the pleader." Reichs Ford Rd. Joint Venture v. State Roads Comm'n, 388 Md. 500, 509 (2005). From the complaint, Cedar Ridge's motion to dismiss, and Llanten's response to that motion, the following picture emerges.[2]

Cedar Ridge is an association of mental health professionals that provides outpatient mental health services to children and adults. Llanten is a licensed psychotherapist and certified hypnotherapist. In January, 2006, she became affiliated with Cedar Ridge through a "contractor agreement" by which she agreed to pay Cedar Ridge an hourly fee in return for the use of Cedar Ridge's facilities to treat patients. Many, or most, of Llanten's patients had health insurance policies that paid for Llanten's services. As part of its agreement with Llanten, Cedar Ridge undertook to process her patients' claims with their respective health insurers and to remit payments by the insurers to her. In January, 2008, Llanten's relationship with Cedar Ridge changed to that of an "associate." Under the terms of this agreement, Llanten undertook to pay a fixed monthly fee to Cedar Ridge for the use of its facilities and its administrative services.

At the same time, viz., January, 2008, Llanten became concerned that Cedar Ridge had failed to disburse all monies that were due her from insurance companies for her services. She notified Cedar Ridge that she wished to terminate their relationship. The termination became effective in May of that year.

On August 1, 2008, Llanten filed in the circuit court a notice of deposition for the perpetuation of evidence pursuant to Maryland Rule 2-404 (the "Rule 2-404 Notice").[3] Therein, Llanten stated that she sought to preserve a variety of documents in the possession of Cedar Ridge that pertained to her claim that it had wrongfully withheld monies due her. The Rule 2-404 Notice further stated that:

The subject matter of the expected action includes, but is not limited to, claims for specific performance, breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duties, conversion, violations of Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law, and other legal and equitable remedies, arising out of or related to [Llanten]'semployment relationship with [Cedar Ridge] . . . .[4]

The circuit court issued a subpoena the same day, August 1, 2008. Following the issuance of the subpoena, counsel for Llanten and Cedar Ridge engaged in settlement negotiations but to no avail.

On January 17, 2012, Llanten filed a complaint against Cedar Ridge, asserting claims for: (1) breach of contract; (2) unjust enrichment; (3) conversion; and (4) violation of the Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Act. Llanten sought $50, 000 per claim, attorney's fees, and interest.

Cedar Ridge filed a motion to dismiss the complaint, contending that it was barred by limitations. It asserted that Llanten's claims accrued no later than January, 2008, which was four years prior to the date the complaint was filed. In response, Llanten argued that the filing of her Rule 2-404 Notice tolled the statute of limitations.

The circuit court held a hearing on the motion. On June 25, 2012, the court granted Cedar Ridge's motion to dismiss in a thorough and well-reasoned memorandum opinion. Concluding its analysis of some ...


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