LAURENCE S. KAYE
[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
from the Circuit Court for Montgomery County. Ronald B.
BY: Laurence S. Kaye (Kaye Law Firm of Rockville, MD) on the
brief. FOR APPELLANT
BY: Fred B. Goldberg (Law Offices of Fred B. Goldberg, PC of
Columbia, MD) on the brief. FOR APPELLEE
BEFORE: Eyler, Deborah S., Berger, Reed, JJ. Opinion by
Md.App. 666] Berger, J.
Kaye (" Kaye" ), appellant, an attorney,
represented Linda Wilson-Gaskins (" Wilson-Gaskins"
), appellee, in a wrongful termination lawsuit filed against
Wilson-Gaskins's former employer, Government Employees
Insurance Company (" GEICO" ). Following that
representation, Wilson-Gaskins filed a complaint against Kaye
alleging " legal malpractice." The Circuit Court
for Montgomery County granted summary judgment in favor of
Kaye and dismissed Wilson-Gaskins's complaint.
Wilson-Gaskins appealed the dismissal of her claim. We
affirmed the judgment of the circuit court and held that
Wilson-Gaskins failed to make a prima facie case for
professional negligence. We further held that a release
contained in a settlement agreement between the parties was
on March 17, 2015, Kaye filed a three-count complaint in the
Circuit Court for Montgomery County alleging, among other
things, that the filing of Wilson-Gaskins's lawsuit
against Kaye constituted a breach of the parties'
settlement agreement. Wilson-Gaskins filed a motion to
dismiss Kaye's complaint. Following two hearings, the
court dismissed the first two counts of Kaye's complaint.
Kaye then voluntarily dismissed count three of his
complaint. This timely appeal followed.
appeal, Kaye argues that the circuit court erred in granting
Wilson-Gaskins's motion to dismiss his complaint.
Specifically, Kaye presents four issues for our
review, which we consolidate and rephrase as
[227 Md.App. 667] Whether the circuit court erred in
dismissing Kaye's complaint for breach of
reasons stated herein, we shall affirm the judgment of the
Circuit Court for Montgomery County.
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
thirty-six years prior to her termination, Wilson-Gaskins was
a Senior Claims Examiner for GEICO. In that capacity,
Wilson-Gaskins was " responsible for overseeing and
handling a case from beginning to end." She handled
cases " including major bodily injury, or any case where
litigation was anticipated," and she was "
responsible for processing the entire case on [her]
own," including " contacting and interviewing
witnesses, evaluating medical evidence, attempting to settle
cases without litigation, referring the cases to outside
counsel and ensuring that counsel was properly handling the
alleged that, on March 20, 2006, she was "
constructively discharged" from her employment with
GEICO, [227 Md.App. 668] after being told that if she did not
retire, she would be terminated for " gross
misconduct." Kaye, and The Kaye Law Firm, subsequently
represented Wilson-Gaskins in a lawsuit for wrongful
discharge in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County
captioned Linda Wilson v. Government Employees Insurance
Co., Case No. 279956V. On June 9, 2009, following a
trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Wilson-Gaskins
in the amount of $1,415,991. Despite her significant
recovery, Wilson-Gaskins was not satisfied with Kaye's
handling of the litigation.
14, 2009, Wilson-Gaskins wrote Kaye a letter requesting that
" the proceeds from the jury award . . . be held and not
be disbursed in any way, until we have reached an agreement
on the total distribution to include Attorney fees, cost [
sic ] and expenses." She stated that she was
" requesting this action because of [her] overall
dissatisfaction with the handling of [her] case from a legal
standpoint." Specifically, Wilson-Gaskins expressed that
she was dissatisfied with several aspects of Kaye's
representation, including Kaye's decision to file the
claim in Montgomery County instead of " the more
favorable jurisdiction of Prince George[']s County"
; delays in filing suit and with trial dates " as a
result of [Kaye's] needs" ; the " failure to
allege counts of retaliation and breach of contract"
until beyond the statute of limitation (resulting in
dismissal of those claims); and the failure to prove, to the
satisfaction of the court, counts for discrimination and
wrongful termination (resulting
in dismissal on the discrimination count and the court's
denial of an award for punitive damages). Wilson-Gaskins
asserted that, as a result of Kaye's actions, she
incurred " substantial financial loss," and
requested a " substantial reduction in [his] attorney
17, 2009, Kaye sent Wilson-Gaskins a letter by facsimile
regarding " Disbursement of Funds/Settlement of
Claims." That letter provided, in relevant part:
In the past two days, you and I have engaged in a series of
discussions regarding the disbursement of funds, settlement
of your claims against GEICO, and allegations that I and [227
Md.App. 669] The Kaye Law Firm somehow mishandled aspects of
After our discussions, we arrived at a variety of agreements
regarding actions to be taken. I am summarizing them below:
1. You authorize me to inform [GEICO's counsel] that you
agree that there will be no appeal of any issues of the case,
and you are prepared to fully settle all claims, upon the
payment of the $1,415,991.00 awarded in this
2. Assuming the settlement of the case at this point, Kaye
Law Firm will receive an additional $275,000.00 in attorney
fees for its representation of you in this matter, beyond
what you have already paid in attorney fees earlier in this
case ($45,000.00). You understand that this fee represents a
significant reduction from the fees to which we are entitled
as set forth in our retainer agreement. We have agreed that
this is a flat fee.
. . .
7. You and I have agreed that we will sign a separate
agreement between yourself, The Kaye Law Firm, and myself,
which will include complete releases of any and all claims,
including claims for professional negligence arising out of
our handling of the case . . . . You will act expeditiously
to execute such release, and I agree not to disburse our
attorney fees until that release is executed.
I believe that this letter accurately describes our
discussions on the various issues set forth above. If you are
in agreement with the contents of the letter, and give me
your approval to proceed accordingly, please indicate this by
signing your name below and sending the letter back to me by
Md.App. 670] Wilson-Gaskins's signature appears on the
letter, dated " 6-7-09."
7, 2009, Wilson-Gaskins, Kaye, and The Kaye Law Firm entered
into a settlement agreement. The settlement agreement
contains what purported to be a release which provides in
A. Wilson[-Gaskins] does release and forever discharge Kaye .
. . [his] agents, servants, employees and all other persons,
firms, associations, and corporations, past and present, of
and from any and all actions, claims and demands including
claims or actions for contribution or indemnity of whatever
nature now existing or which may hereafter arise out of the
legal representation of Wilson[-Gaskins] in regard to [Case
No. 279956] including any consequences thereof now existing
or which may develop,
whether or not such consequences are known or anticipated.
Kaye does release and forever discharge Wilson[-Gaskins] from
any and all actions, claims and demands including claims or
actions for contribution or indemnity of whatever nature now
existing or which may hereafter arise out of the legal
representation of Wilson[-Gaskins] in regard to [Case No.
279956] including any consequences thereof now existing or
which may develop, whether or not such consequences are known
. . .
C. Wilson[-Gaskins] further acknowledges:
(1) That she understands that before signing this General
Release she was aware that she could, if she chose, consult
with another lawyer of her choosing, that such consultation
or representation is appropriate and that she has either
consulted with an attorney of her choosing or voluntarily
chosen to enter into this General Release without such
(2) That no additional promise or agreement has been made as
consideration for this Release and that the signing thereof
has not been induced by any representations of the parties
released, or by anyone in their behalf, concerning [227
Md.App. 671] the nature, extent or duration of the injuries
or damages sustained, or any other matter.
. . .
D. In recognition of the work Kaye performed on behalf of
Wilson[-Gaskins] in conjunction with [Case No. 279956],
Wilson[-Gaskins] agrees that Kaye shall be entitled to an
additional attorney fee in the amount of Two Hundred
Seventy-Five Thousand Dollars ($275,000.00) beyond any
attorney fees already paid to Kaye (which the parties agree
has been approximately $45,000.00 at the inception of the
case) prior to the date of the execution of this Release, and
that Wilson[-Gaskins] continues to be responsible for all
costs incurred in the prosecution of [Case No. 279956].
Wilson[-Gaskins] has also agreed that Kaye should be paid an
additional Twenty-Five Thousand Dollars ($25,000.00) as a