Circuit Court for Montgomery County Case No. 434503-V
Berger, Nazarian, Reed, JJ.
appeal arises from an order of the Circuit Court for
Montgomery County granting a Motion for Partial Summary
Judgment filed by Valley Mill Camp, Inc. ("Valley
Mill"), appellee. The Complaint that initiated the
lawsuit giving rise to this appeal alleged, inter
alia, that Bruce Uthus ("Uthus"), appellant,
had trespassed on Valley Mill's property. After
discovery, Valley Mill moved for partial summary judgment.
Following a hearing, the circuit court entered summary
judgment in Valley Mill's favor on the trespass claim and
ordered Uthus to vacate the property. Uthus filed a Motion to
Alter or Amend Judgment, asserting that the circuit court
lacked jurisdiction to address the trespass claim. The
circuit court denied Uthus's motion, and Uthus appealed.
appeal, Uthus presents two issues for our review, which we
have rephrased as follows:
I. Whether the circuit court erred when it determined that it
had jurisdiction to consider the trespass claim.
II. Whether the circuit court erred by granting Valley
Mill's motion for summary judgment on the trespass claim.
no error, we shall affirm.
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Mill operates a summer camp for children on approximately
sixty acres in Germantown, Maryland. The camp has been
operated by Uthus's family since 1956. The sole
shareholder of Valley Mill is Evelyn McEwan, Uthus's
mother. Ms. McEwan is also Valley Mill's President.
Valley Mill leases the property (the "Property")
upon which the camp operates from Seneca Joint Venture, a
Maryland general partnership composed of Ms. McEwan, the
Robert McEwan Trust, Valley Mill, Uthus, and Seneca Venture,
is a former employee and former member of the Board of
Directors of Valley Mill. In May of 2017, Valley Mill
terminated Uthus's employment. Prior to Uthus's
termination, Uthus had resided in an apartment unit on the
Property. Uthus had resided in the apartment for
approximately nineteen years while employed by Valley Mill.
After the termination of Uthus's employment, Valley Mill
asked Uthus to vacate the apartment, but he refused to do so.
17, 2017, Valley Mill filed a complaint against Uthus in the
Circuit Court for Montgomery County alleging that Uthus was
trespassing on the Property. Following discovery, Valley Mill
moved for summary judgment on the trespass count. At the
conclusion of a hearing on the motion on July 25, 2018, the
circuit court issued its oral ruling as follows:
So at this point there doesn't appear to be any factual
dispute about certain facts, and that is that Valley Mill
Camp has a lease on this property, and that at some point Mr.
Uthus was employed there at the camp, to help run the camp,
and that employment ended in May of 2017. And he was asked to
vacate the premises, and apparently he has not.
So under the claim that's been brought for trespass,
Valley Mill has the exclusive right to possess the property,
and they've given notice to Mr. Uthus to vacate the
property, which he hasn't, which clearly shows that his
presence on the property is without the consent of [Valley
Mill]. So I'll grant the motion for summary judgment as
to the claim of trespass, which is Count 4.
filed a Motion to Alter or Amend the circuit court's
order on August 10, 2018. In his motion, Uthus alleged that: (1)
the circuit court did not have subject matter jurisdiction
over the trespass claim, and (2) the circuit court erred by
granting summary judgment on the trespass claim because Uthus
physically possessed the apartment. The circuit court denied
Uthus's motion. This timely appeal followed.
facts shall be set forth as necessitated by our discussion of
the issues on appeal.