Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Prince George's County v. Columcille Building Corp.

Court of Special Appeals of Maryland

August 29, 2014

PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY, MARYLAND
v.
COLUMCILLE BUILDING CORPORATION

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

OPINION

Woodward, J.

As of 2010, Prince George's County ("the County"), appellant, and the Columcille Building Corporation ("Columcille"), appellee, were both defendants in a tort action brought by Donte Guzman in the Circuit Court for Prince George's County. In December 2007, two police officers employed by the County shot Guzman in the parking lot of a building owned by Columcille ("the Columcille Building"). At the time of the shooting, the police officers were working as security guards for an event being held on Columcille's property.

Guzman's action went to trial in 2012. Columcille, and another defendant, the Columcille Building of Oxon Hill ("Oxon Hill"), moved for judgment at the close of Guzman's case. The parties consented to Oxon Hill's motion, but the circuit court denied Columcille's motion. At the conclusion of all of the evidence, the court granted Columcille's renewed motion for judgment, ruling that, as a matter of law, Columcille had no employment relationship with the police officers, and thus could not be liable for their actions. The jury later found the County and the police officers liable to Guzman. The County noted this appeal on January 22, 2013, within thirty days of the final judgment in the Guzman matter.

On appeal, the County does not seek review of the judgment against it and in favor of Guzman. Instead, the County wants this Court to review the judgment in favor of Columcille and against Guzman. The County raises one question on appeal, which we have slightly rephrased: Did the trial court err by granting Columcille's motion for judgment where the court decided as a matter of law that an employer-employee relationship did not exist between Columcille and the police officers?

Columcille requests that this Court dismiss the instant appeal on either of two grounds: (1) the appeal was untimely filed with regards to the judgment in favor of Columcille and against Guzman, or (2) the County has no standing to bring the appeal. For the reasons that follow, we do not reach any of the matters raised by the parties, because we conclude that this appeal must be dismissed as moot.

BACKGROUND

On September 26, 2007, Columcille and Jamelle Holley entered into an agreement entitled "Columcille Building Corporation Rental Agreement" ("Rental Agreement"). Columcille agreed to rent the Columcille Building and surrounding parking lot to Holley on the evening of December 29, 2007. The Rental Agreement included the following provision regarding security:

It is understood that [Columcille] determines the requirement for physical security and will arrange for such support during any lease period. An assessment of $125.00 per security officer for 4 hours will be charged. Any other arrangements have to have prior approval of [Columcille's management].

Per the agreement, John Vary, rental manager for Columcille, determined that security would be required for Holley's event.

At some point prior to the December 29 event, Vary spoke to Corporal Jerry Montgomery of the Prince George's County Police Department to arrange for off-duty police officers to work the event. Cpl. Montgomery assigned two Prince George's County police officers—Sergeant Gregory Sanders and Corporal Ashli Tims—to the Holley event. Cpl. Montgomery also suggested that his neighbor, Maryland State Trooper Tracey Freeman, work the event, and Vary agreed. The officers were scheduled to work from 10 p.m. on December 29, 2007 to 2 a.m. the following morning, and were instructed to stay at the Holley event until the "main crowd left."

In the early morning hours of December 30, 2007, as Holley's event was concluding, Sgt. Sanders and Cpl. Tims were informed of an altercation in the parking lot of the Columcille Building. Upon exiting the building into the parking lot, the officers observed a man firing a gun into a parked car and then running away. Both Sgt. Sanders and Cpl. Tims discharged their weapons in the direction of the fleeing shooter. A man collapsed to the ground, who was later identified as Donte Guzman.

On November 5, 2010, Guzman filed a civil complaint in the circuit court against several parties, including the County, Columcille, Oxon Hill, Sgt. Sanders and Cpl. Tims.[1]Guzman alleged that, in and as a result of the December 30, 2007 shooting, Sgt. Sanders and Cpl. Tims committed various common law torts against him. Guzman further alleged that the officers violated his rights under Articles 24 and 26 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights. Finally, Guzman alleged that the County, Columcille, and Oxon Hill were responsible for all of the tortious actions of Sgt. Sanders and Cpl. Tims via respondeat superior. The County did not file a cross-claim against Columcille.

Trial began on the merits of Guzman's complaint on August 27, 2012. On August 30, 2012, at the close of Guzman's case, Oxon Hill and Columcille each made a motion for judgment. Oxon Hill's motion was granted by consent of the parties on all counts, but the trial court denied Columcille's motion. The judgment in favor of Oxon Hill was not entered, however, until September 13, 2012 (the "September 13 Judgment"). On September 4, 2012, at the close of the defendants' case, the trial court granted Columcille's renewed motion for judgment, and issued an order in its ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.