News Highlights

G&S Assists Small Business Owner in Achieving Repeal of Unconstitutional Frederick City Ordinance

Gordon & Simmons was retained in October by a Montgomery County entrepreneur who was unable to obtain a permit to open a small business in the City of Frederick.  In addition to retail sales, Victoria Frank, a small business owner, proposed to perform psychic readings at a planned shop within the city limits, but was not able to obtain a permit.  A city ordinance made it a civil infraction to perform readings within the city for a fee.  Gordon & Simmons reached out to the city government on behalf of its client and requested the City reassess the constitutionality of City Code Ordinance §15-19 – an archaic statute that prohibited receiving a fee for services relating to “clairvoyance, mind reading, palmistry, phrenology, divination or other [psychical] means or pretense of fortunetelling” within the Frederick City limits.  The ordinance raised First Amendment issues and, in fact, based upon initial research by Gordon & Simmons, the firm quickly learned that a similar ban in Montgomery County had been ruled unconstitutional by the Court of Appeals in 2010 in its ruling in the case of Nefedro v. Montgomery County, Maryland, et al.  On November 20, 2014, the Mayor and Board of Alderman of Frederick voted unanimously in favor of repealing the statute, thereby eliminating the restrictions on Gordon & Simmons’ client and all entrepreneurs who wish to conduct similar business in the City of Frederick.

Firm Pressing Claims in Federal Court on Behalf of David Lerner

The firm, led by Roger Simmons, is representing David Lerner, a resident of New York, in pursuing a Complaint filed recently in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York.  Lerner is suing multiple defendants for their alleged refusal to pay him significant monies, and to convey an ownership stake to him for his efforts to acquire the rights to, and to raise capital for, a new regional restaurant venture.  Lerner was instrumental in introducing two high-profile individuals in the restaurant industry, Hugh Connerty and Chris Sullivan to the Besito restaurant originally based in New York and Connecticut.  Lerner played a significant role in efforts to acquire the rights to market and expand the Besito restaurant brand and to raise capital for the expansion efforts.  Indeed, the effort to expand Besito is well underway.

Connerty is credited with originating the Longhorn Steakhouse concept, was instrumental in the growth of the Hooters restaurant chain, was the original franchisee of Outback Steakhouse, and is a former president and managing partner of Outback Steakhouse International. Sullivan is the founder, former chairman and CEO of Outback Steakhouse and was also involved in the Steak and Ale and Bennigan’s restaurant chains. Additional defendants in the case include Consul Partners, LLC and Besito, LLC.

Besides their client’s contract claims, Gordon & Simmons’ client has asserted claims against the defendants ranging from defamation and trade disparagement, to fraud, and tortious interference.

G&S Prevails for Small Business Owner in Zoning Decision

Gordon & Simmons recently represented two individuals in their efforts to continue to operate their family-owned dog boarding business at their personal residence in Union Bridge. In early 2014, the clients, who operate 4 Bare Paws Doggie Camp in Frederick County, received a notice from local zoning authorities stating that their business was not in compliance with the Frederick County Zoning Ordinance.  The property was nearly three acres short of the minimum lot area requirement applicable to kennel operations, and fencing on the property was subject to a number of setback provisions.

Gordon & Simmons applied for a Special Exception and Variance on behalf of their clients to allow the dog boarding business, the sole source of income for the clients, to continue to operate in their agricultural zoned district despite these deficiencies. After two hearings with the Frederick County Board of Appeals, Shawn and Chaz were able to narrow the issues to just the minimum lot area requirement. Despite this hurdle, the Board of Appeals followed Gordon & Simmons’s arguments that the business was the most economically efficient use of the property and unanimously approved the clients’ applications for a Special Exception and Variance. Shawn and Chaz will be continuing to work with 4 Bare Paws Doggie Camp to gain the necessary site plan and health department approvals and to bring the operation into compliance with Frederick County regulations.

Video of the firm’s presentation to the Frederick County Board of Appeals can be found on the Frederick County government website:

Firm Enters Fray Against School Assessment Testing

Gordon & Simmons has been retained by Frederick County school activist Cindy Rose to take up her challenge to annual mandatory assessment testing in Maryland public schools. G & S and Chris deBettencourt entered their appearance as lawyers for Rose in her declaratory judgment action against the Frederick County Board of Education, where she is seeking a judicial declaration confirming a parent’s right to refuse to allow testing of his or her child. Beginning in third grade, students attending Maryland public schools are subject to annual assessment testing. The assessment testing is intended to comply with requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind Act and to incorporate new Common Core curriculum standards. Rose initially filed the action as a pro se litigant when Frederick County Public Schools sought to bar Rose’s middle school daughter from attending school during the testing period after she refused to participate in testing in March 2014. Gordon & Simmons has just recently entered its appearance and filed an opposition to a summary judgment motion filed on behalf of the school system.

Settlement Achieved for Client In Low Policy Limits Personal Injury Case

Gordon & Simmons recently succeeded in achieving a settlement exceeding $100,000 for a client in a personal injury case who was injured while driving a company vehicle. The at-fault motorist had policy limits of only $30,000 to compensate the injured client. The law firm pursued his client’s employer’s uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage in order to achieve a settlement that fairly compensated the client for his injuries.

Gordon & Simmons Defends Clients Against Six-Figure Deficiency Judgment Sought by Dyck-O’Neal, Inc.

A husband and wife came to the firm facing a six-figure deficiency judgment stemming from the foreclosure of a family home several years prior. Lawyers at the firm of Gordon & Simmons formulated and implemented a cost-effective and efficient defense strategy that successfully rebuffed Dyck-O’Neal, Inc.’s attempt to collect more than $100,000 that it was not legally owed.

Gordon & Simmons Defends Clients in Large Judgment

A husband and wife came to Gordon & Simmons having spent the last seven (7) years defending against claims related to the sale of their former residence. Despite a long, tortured string of litigation, the clients were now at a critical juncture – they faced liability on a six-figure judgment which recently had been adjudged non-dischargeable by Bankruptcy, enforceable and collectible.

Despite this difficult posture, Gordon & Simmons formulated a dual-headed strategy to not only stave off collection of the judgment, but also to satisfy the judgment. In the end, Gordon & Simmons negotiated the complete satisfaction of liability for the six-figure judgment without the clients’ payment of any judgment principal, attorneys’ fees or costs. A fabulous turnaround, indeed.

Office Depot’s Attempt to Dismiss Litigation Up-Ended by Gordon & Simmons

Business Lawyers in Frederick, MDThe firm is currently representing a Frederick couple in a lawsuit against Office Depot, the perennial Fortune 500 office supply and tech services corporation. The couple entrusted their laptop computer, which contained their professional and personal data and files, with an Office Depot store in Frederick, Maryland to allow the tech experts to obtain a price quote for some possible repair work on the laptop. Office Depot subsequently lost the laptop, along with the irreplaceable data it held. Gordon & Simmons filed an eleven-count Complaint in the Circuit Court for Frederick County, Maryland on the couple’s behalf that was centered around Office Depot’s failure to securely maintain possession of the laptop and includes claims, among others, for breach of contract, breach of express warranty, negligence, negligent hiring, retention, and supervision, negligent misrepresentation, promissory estoppel, conversion, and a violation of the Maryland Consumer Protection Act.

Office Depot attempted to dismiss the couple’s entire Complaint by relying upon a forum selection clause, which Office Depot argued forced the Frederick couple to pursue their claims against Office Depot nearly one thousand miles away in the unrelated State of Florida. The Court agreed that the couple should be able to maintain their litigation here in Frederick County, Maryland where they reside. Discovery in this case is now underway.

Developers Defended in Commercial Real Estate Transaction

Commercial Litigation Lawyers in Frederick, MarylandGordon & Simmons succeeded in extricating two well-known Washington-area real estate developers from a lawsuit arising out their efforts to purchase a multi-million dollar commercial property (worth between $36 million and $42 million, according to the parties) in Northern Virginia occupied by General Dynamics.

Galaxy/Halle Investments, LLC, a prospective buyer, became embroiled in a long-simmering feud between partners in the ownership of prime Oakton, Virginia commercial property, and Galaxy/Halle and its principals were dragged into litigation in the Circuit Court for Fairfax County involving disputes between the partners including members of the Lerner family (who own the Washington Nationals) and Merrick Marshall and Jerome Kaplan.

Roger Simmons and the law firm of Gordon & Simmons came into the case as successor counsel approximately one month before the scheduled trial in the case, and working with local counsel Barney Goodman and George Hawkins of Peterson, Goodman & Hawkins, PLLC, succeeded not only in having the claims filed by the Lerner entities dropped, obtaining releases for the clients, but were also successful in recouping all of the attorneys’ fees and other associated costs incurred by Galaxy/Halle and its principals in the transaction plus additional monies to compensate the clients for the time and expenses incurred.