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Scott Michael Swafford

Scott Swafford’s Answers

119 total


  • Q: Can a landlord keep a security deposit when tenant was informed he had to move?

    I rented a room in a house, the landlord moved me into a room he didn't show me. I informed landlord my son would be coming to see me from time to time. My son had to come stay with me for two weeks and then come stay a few days overnight. Same...

    Scott’s Answer

    You're generally protected in Maryland, with varying degrees of protection by county, from adverse actions by landlords, and you have many protections from landlords keeping your security deposit without adequate cause. You should consult an attorney, providing a copy of your lease, and be ready to go through specifics (eg when you moved out, what notice you or he provided, when he informed you about withholding the security deposit, etc.). Feel free to call a attorney with experience in landlord tenant matters.

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  • What can you do if you rent a house with no contract and then the landlord suing for damage property.

    My mom have been renting a house for 2 years with no contract . The landlord never changed the carpet on the floors and had roaches everywhere . My mom had orkin pest control to come every month to spray the house for a year. Know that we moved ou...

    Scott’s Answer

    A landlord/tenant or contract attorney would also wish to know the answer to several questions (see below for a few) before providing further advice. Please feel free to respond here, call my office, or contact another landlord/tenant attorney.

    Has the landlord filed suit, and if so was it for breach of lease or separately for damages; did your mother provide a security deposit that is being withheld; and was the property located in Prince George's county?

    Best of luck.

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  • Are the wriiten appeal arguments more of a deciding factor for the judges or what was said at the oral arguments?

    My appeal attorney messed up on some questions ask by the judges. Does my attorneys oral argument answers outweigh what was written in the brief? I'm so upset. Pls help.

    Scott’s Answer

    Other than agreeing with my esteemed colleagues, I would only add that while oral argument can flavor and influence decisions, my experience has been that most appellate judges (certainly the COA, and often the COSA, depending on the panels) use oral argument to explore more hypotheticals (what will happen if we rule one way or the other), evaluate potential impact, or to seek better understanding of arguments they are generally either already for or against. Two weeks ago before the COSA, opposing counsel in a matter I was arguing actually made a very damning admission to his case by accident, which as it turns out wasn't supported by the record (he was temporarily confused over a factual issue), and I'm fairly confident that that admission won't factor into the COSA's decision. Each judge on the panel (in my particular matter) had read both sides' briefs and the record before oral argument, and will doubtless go back to the record and briefs before writing their opinion. I will be very surprised if the factual misstatement at oral argument factors into the decision.
    Also, please remember that no one is perfect, and attorneys often can and do make mistakes. If the matter was material and your appeals attorney was factually incorrect, he can always note such back to the court. While I haven't corrected myself through such a process (knock on wood), I have seen an Assistant AG in Maryland supplement his brief after certain factual inaccuracies were brought to his attention.
    Bottom line - "messing up" on questions during oral arguments don't normally weigh nearly as much with judges as do the record and briefs.
    Best of luck!

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  • I am being charged with child neglect in md by DSS, there are no criminal charges being brought against me, Do I need a lawyer?

    I have a clean record, my kids are my life basically. My husband has dementia and had thrown a knife at a door and nearly hit my daughter. I was home when this happened but didn't really hear what was going on because I was doing laundry and also ...

    Scott’s Answer

    While I agree with my esteemed colleagues that it sounds advisable for you to have an attorney, and that attorneys with criminal defense backgrounds would be helpful, the hearing process for abuse & neglect cases sometimes presents unique issues. While I have only handled one such matter (successfully ensuring a finding of no abuse or neglect), I may be able to walk you through the process. However, when you seek an attorney to represent you, I would definitely suggest you ask for specific experience representing clients before MD DSS/CPS.
    Best regards and good luck.

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  • I am trying to decide how to choose the best attorney for my needs. I am looking at 3 attorneys. There are no reviews on them.

    1st offense. I am age 40. Intoxicated and found myself on someones porch at a packed street festival in a downtown area. I was separated at the festival from my husband & friend. Cell ph dead I was looking for them. My past is that I am a busines...

    Scott’s Answer

    Evaluating attorney skill and cost is often potentially problematic. In this instance, I would echo the thoughts of my colleagues in that you should meet with each potential attorney before making any decision. Some specific questions that all attorneys should welcome that you should pose should include: how many similar matters have you done; can you provide the contact information for any previous clients I could contact regarding your representation; and how flexible are you regarding payment? This last question may elicit widely varying responses, just as individual attorney's billing practices and prior experiences with clients' fidelity towards making payments also varies. Generally though, my experience suggests that attorneys that focus on results rather than process are more beneficial and cost effective in the long run, regardless of any stated hourly fees.
    Best of luck!

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  • An employee who specifically requested a fixed term employment contract quit, and is ignoring our legal threats. Breach Contract

    Employee was a work for hire. He/she contacted management and expressed interest in a fixed term contract, guaranteeing company with 2 years of service in exchange for a raise, training, and promotion. 1 year in, as soon as training was finished, ...

    Scott’s Answer

    I agree completely with my other colleagues - the terms that will be enforced are those within the contract, and so reviewing that is the first step towards being able to provide any specific advice. Some issues an attorney would look for would be whether the liquidated damages clause is enforceable and covers the instant issue, the soundness of the attorneys' fees provision, and of course counseling you generally on the relative likelihood of collection. A good attorney should be able to review the contract and provide you more specific advice regarding next steps (e.g., demand letter, filing suit, etc.).

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  • Can I terminate my employment without notice legally?

    I have no taxes taken out, I am paid hourly at a family daycare and listed as a co-provider, but I am treated as an employee. I have a work agreement, which has been changed, but not in writing. She keeps calling it a "contract." I want to lea...

    Scott’s Answer

    If by "no taxes taken out" you mean you are not issued a W2 and receive a regular payroll check that shows deductions, receive benefits, etc., then that tends to suggest you normally only receive a check for hourly rates, and perhaps a 1099 at the end of each year, and it is your responsibility then to declare earnings for tax purposes. That goes to the issue of whether you are an "employee" or "independent contractor," which is important in helping determine what your legal remedies may be (e.g., complaining to Md. DLLR should she withhold wages without justification following your departure), but the more underlying question is what your "work agreement" states regarding termination or resigning. In the absence of anything in that agreement or any other agreement you may have made with this company that requires certain notice provisions, bars you from working for a competitor for a certain time period, or requires you to work a certain term, you would generally be free to resign and provide reasonable notice. If the employer wishes to hold you accountable for "damages" for leaving, she may need to herself file suit. Of course, depending on your reimbursement schedule she may also decide to withhold a final paycheck based upon her claim of "damages" from your departure, at which time you would need yourself to either complain to DLLR (if you would be considered an "employee"), or potentially hire an attorney to examine other options.
    Bottom line though - if you're not concerned about any final pay issues, and there is no agreement specifying that she can take actions should you resign, then you should be able to resign without fear of her filing suit against you.
    Good luck but note: more facts may be required to provide more specific advice under the relevant circumstances of your case; no attorney-client relationship is established from the provision of this general advice; and while general legal information may be provided, it is difficult to accurately predict the actions of third parties.

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  • Should I get an attorney?

    I currently live in an apartment, where mold is growing on my belonging. Mold has grown on my dinning room chair, a lot of my son and I shoes and clothes. The mold is growing on the cabinets as well. Also a pipe bust recently and caused an odor in...

    Scott’s Answer

    I would only add to the words of my esteemed colleagues to file a report and complaint with the appropriate (Baltimore city or county, depending on where you live) housing department, who themselves may act requiring your landlord to act or face penalties / fines.

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  • Dispute between home improvement contractor and home owner

    Would it be in my best interest to contact the better business bureau before I proceed with legal action If There Is Negligence Upon The Contractors part?

    Scott’s Answer

    I generally agree with my colleagues, but would also note that some of your options (mediation, arbitration, etc) may be constrained based upon any contract you entered into with the contractor. The Maryland Home Improvement Commission (MHIC) requires certain mediation or conditions upon arbitration clauses appearing in home improvement contracts, which you may be required to follow prior to litigation. Of course, the MHIC itself offers good dispute resolution programs, which may or may not be advisable in your case. An attorney may be helpful to you in understanding your options and which particular courses of action appear most advisable under the circumstances.
    Best of luck!

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  • My orthodontist is paid in full he is now refusing treatment because i an missed appointment and request $250

    I have not been seen for over 2yrs with the braces in my mouth for lack of funds. Now he is fully paid and this is my first missed appointment with him.

    Scott’s Answer

    In practical terms I agree with my colleagues that the simplest solution may be to approach him in an effort to convince him to waive the fees and resume treatment. That said, unless you agreed ahead time in a services or other contract with your orthodontist that he could charge for missed appointments, you generally wouldn't be liable for those charges, and indeed if he pressed a case for collections may have viable counterclaims under various state and federal debt collection laws.
    Best of luck!

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