The Maryland Court of Appeal issued an opinion in Curtis O. Rosemann v. Salsbury, Clements, Bekman, Marder & Adkins, LLC on January 13, 2010 stating that funds received as a part of a settlement in personal injury case are exempt from being executed for a judgment of child support arrearages. Mr. Rosemann, the father and primary custodial parent of two minor children sought to garnish funds received from his ex-wife in a personal injury lawsuit after she failed to pay her child support. Mr. Rosemann’s battle began in 2001 when he obtained two judgments in the Circuit Court for Howard County against his ex-wife for child support arrearages totaling over $33,000.00. Ms. Rosemann and her attorneys were awarded $30,000.00 from America West Airlines in a personal injury lawsuit after being injured while on an America West flight. After learning of this settlement, Mr. Rosemann attempted to garnish the account that held Ms. Rosemann’s share of the settlement.
The Circuit Court found, and the Court of Special Appeals affirmed that the funds were exempt from execution on judgment in accordance with Maryland Code, Courts and Judicial Proceedings § 11-504(b)(2), which states the following: (b) The following items are exempt from execution on a judgment: (2) Money payable in the event of sickness, accident, injury, or death of any person, including compensation for loss of future earnings. This exemption includes but is not limited to money payable on account of judgments, arbitrations, compromises, insurance, benefits, compensation, and relief. Disability income benefits are not exempt if the judgment is for necessities contracted for after the disability is incurred.
While the Court of Appeals stated that they could understand Mr. Rosemann’s situation and pursuit, they affirmed the lower courts’ decisions. The Court can simply not place language in a statute that they believe should be there, or was meant to be there simply to avoid an unfortunate result.
If you have questions regarding your Maryland child support case an experienced Maryland divorce attorney will be able to assist you.