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Scarborough v. Altstatt

Court of Special Appeals of Maryland

June 30, 2016

ROBIN ALTSTATT SCARBOROUGH, ET AL.
v.
LESLIE B. ALTSTATT

          Krauser, C.J., Meredith, Berger, JJ.

          OPINION

          Berger, J.

         This case involves an appeal of an order of the Circuit Court for Montgomery County granting a motion to dismiss filed by appellee Leslie Altstatt ("Altstatt"). Robin Altstatt Scarborough, Alice L. Altstatt, and Carol E. Altstatt, appellants (collectively, "the Appellants"), [1] filed the complaint giving rise to the present appeal, raising various claims relating to injuries allegedly suffered due to childhood sexual abuse perpetrated by their father, Altstatt. Altstatt filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the Appellants' claims were barred by the applicable statute of limitations. The circuit court agreed with Altstatt and dismissed the Appellants' complaint with prejudice.

         On appeal, the Appellants present a single question for our review, which we have rephrased as follows:

Whether the circuit court erred by ruling that the Appellants' complaint was barred by the statute of limitations.

         Altstatt has moved to dismiss this appeal, arguing that the Appellants failed to file a timely notice of appeal. For the reasons explained herein, we shall deny Altstatt's motion to dismiss this appeal and hold that the circuit court did not err by ruling that Appellants' claims were barred by the statute of limitations.

         FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS

         On December 4, 2014, the Appellants filed a complaint in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County alleging one count each of intentional infliction of emotional distress, assault and battery, and negligence as a result of sexual abuse by Altstatt while the Appellants were minor children. The alleged abuse occurred between 1964 and 1984.

         On January 20, 2015, Altstatt filed a motion to dismiss the complaint, arguing that the Appellants' claims were barred by the statute of limitations. The Appellants opposed the motion to dismiss. The Appellants argued that they suffered from dissociative amnesia which, they alleged, should toll the statute of limitations until the time they began to remember the abuse in early 2014. The circuit court held a hearing on the motion to dismiss on April 22, 2015. At the conclusion of the hearing, the circuit court granted Altstatt's motion to dismiss because the claims were barred by the statute of limitations. The court reduced its judgment to a written order which was docketed on April 24, 2015.

         On May 4, 2015, the Appellants filed a motion to alter or amend the order granting Altstatt's motion to dismiss. Altstatt filed an opposition on May 21, 2015. On June 9, 2015, the circuit court issued the order that forms the basis for Altstatt's motion to dismiss the extant appeal. The June 9, 2015 order provides:

UPON CONSIDERATION of Plaintiffs' Motion to Alter or Amend This Court's Order Granting Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Complaint, it is this 9th Day of June 2015, by the Circuit Court of Maryland for Montgomery County, it is hereby
ORDERED: That Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Complaint is DENIED.

         (Emphasis added.)

         The June 9 order was docketed on June 12, 2015. The docket entry provided:

ORDER OF COURT (SALANT, J.) THAT PLAINTIFFS' MOTION TO ALTER OR AMEND THIS COURT'S ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS COMPLAINT IS DENIED, ENTERED. (COPIES MAILED)

         On July 16, 2015, the circuit court issued a subsequent order titled "AMENDED ORDER."[2] The order provided:

Upon consideration of Plaintiffs' Motion to Alter or Amend, filed May 4, 2015 (docket entry #28), and Defendant's Opposition thereto, filed May 21, 2015 (docket entry #29), and pursuant to Maryland Rule 2-535(d), it is . . .
ORDERED that Plaintiffs' Motion to Alter or Amend (docket entry #28) shall be, and hereby is, DENIED.

         On August 6, 2015, Appellants filed a notice of appeal. On August 17, 2015, Altstatt filed a motion to strike the Appellants' notice of appeal, which was denied by the circuit court on September 16, 2015.

         On November 2, 2015, Altstatt filed a motion to dismiss the appeal in this Court, arguing that the Appellants' notice of appeal was untimely. The Appellants filed an opposition on November 16, 2015. On November 30, 2015, this Court denied Altstatt's motion to dismiss the appeal with leave to raise the issues in the briefs. In his brief, Altstatt subsequently moved to dismiss the Appellants' appeal as untimely. We, therefore, address the motion to dismiss the appeal herein.

         DISCUSSION

         I. Motion to Dismiss Appeal

         Altstatt asserts that the Appellants' appeal must be dismissed as untimely. Altstatt argues that the Appellants' notice of appeal was due within thirty days of the circuit court's June 12, 2015 order. Because the Appellants' notice of appeal was not filed until August 6, 2015, Altstatt asserts ...


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