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Dolan v. McQuaide

Court of Special Appeals of Maryland

November 5, 2013

EFFIE DOLAN
v.
CHRISTOPHER MCQUAIDE

Matricciani, Berger, Rodowsky, Lawrence F. (Retired, Specially Assigned), JJ.

OPINION

MATRICCIANI, J.

Appellant, Effie Dolan, filed a complaint in the Circuit Court for Cecil County on November 17, 2008, naming as defendant the appellee, Christopher McQuaide, and bringing claims for replevin, conversion, breach of contract, accounting, breach of fiduciary duty by fraud, unjust enrichment, promissory estoppel, civil conspiracy, aiding and abetting, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

The circuit court granted McQuaide's motion for summary judgment on all counts, and on February 10, 2011, this Court affirmed summary judgment except for four counts: breach of contract, accounting, unjust enrichment, and promissory estoppel.

On remand, McQuaide moved again for summary judgment on all remaining counts. The circuit court granted McQuaide's motion except as to unjust enrichment on February 6, 2012. Dolan moved to revise the judgment on March 15, 2012, but her motion was struck as untimely. McQuaide filed a motion to alter or amend the judgment, which the court granted on August 31, 2012, thereby disposing of all claims. Appellant noted this timely appeal on September 20, 2012.

Questions Presented

Dolan presents three questions for our consideration, which we have edited to comport with our discussion:[1]

I. Did the trial court err when it granted McQuaide's motion for summary judgment on breach of oral contract and promissory estoppel, where there was no evidence that the parties had discussed and agreed upon the scope of the plaintiff's services?
II. Did the trial court err when it granted McQuaide's motion for summary judgment on unjust enrichment and accounting, where there was record evidence of the fair market value of her services?
III. Did the trial court err when it struck Dolan's motion to revise the judgment, which was not filed timely due to her counsel's mistake?

For the reasons that follow, we answer no to question one, we answer yes to question two, and we do not reach the merits of question three. We therefore remand the case to the Circuit Court for Cecil County for further proceedings.

Factual and Procedural History

Dolan and McQuaide began a personal and romantic relationship in 1997, and they were engaged to be married in 2002. Sometime between 2000 and 2002, the parties decided to open a carwash business. According to the complaint, "In consideration [for Dolan's] efforts to do the planning, financial and otherwise, for Diamond Car Wash, [McQuaide] agreed and contracted that he and the Plaintiff would be equal partners in the venture, and would share the net profits therefrom equally."

Between 2002 and 2005, Dolan provided various services to McQuaide and his nascent business, "Diamond Car Wash." Among other things, Dolan drafted a business plan and financial projections, wrote contracts for McQuaide to use with his architect, general contractor, and investors, and created a logo and website for the business.

The parties' personal and professional relationship ended just before Diamond Carwash opened, in October of 2005. According to Dolan's complaint, McQuaide did not compensate her as promised, and he refused to allow her to inspect the business's records. Dolan therefore brought claims against McQuaide, including for breach of contract, promissory estoppel, accounting, and unjust enrichment.[2]

After an appeal and remand, noted above, the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of McQuaide on all counts except unjust enrichment. The date stamp on that judgment reads "12 Feb-6 PM 1:05." Dolan's counsel apparently believed that "12" indicated the day, rather than the year, of the judgment, and so did not file a motion to revise judgment until March 15, 2012.[3] The circuit court struck Dolan's motion as untimely and granted McQuaide's motion to alter or amend, thereby granting summary judgment in ...


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