F&P Spotlight on Associate Kara Parker

What is your practice area and how did you choose it?
Employment Law and Workers’ Comp.  I like the high pace of the Commission work and the “we must protect this house” aspect of employment law and defense litigation.

What’s your favorite thing about working with your clients?
I love the problem-solving aspect of what we do and working with my clients on strategies to meet their needs and limit exposure – Teamwork makes the dream work!

What is your favorite aspect about working at F&P?
Without a doubt, the teamwork and culture.  When I first started at F&P, I knew this was the place for me.  We have fun, work hard, and with the help of everyone from the partners on down work together to make each one of us better every day.  Truly.

What’s your favorite restaurant/show/event in Baltimore?
I love a sporting event – ESPECIALLY, a Ravens game.

What’s your proudest accomplishment?
Passing the bar!

Tell us something about you that few of your colleagues and clients would know.
My Frenchie’s name is “Taybur” after Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton – I’m an old movie freak.

What do you like to do outside the office?
I love being outside.  My fiancé and I do a lot of biking, hiking, and hanging out in bars watching international rugby (Go Wales!)

Have you read any good books or seen any good movies this year that you would recommend?
I read A LOT – If you like fantasy, I HIGHLY recommend the Fourth Wing series.  It’s excellent!

What is your favorite food?
Mashed potatoes.

What is your all-time favorite city or town and why?
B-More (Why B-less?).  I love Baltimore – I always have.  I think our city has a unique vibe and flavor that gets under your skin in all the best ways.  Plus, there’s nothing quite like the feel of a Purple Friday in this city during football season.

What was the best news you ever received?
The BEST news? That I was an Aunt (x2).  Shout out to Shiloh and Wyatt Saine for allowing me to live out my Auntie Mame fantasies.

What is the weirdest thing you have ever eaten?
Pickled pig’s knuckles – Don’t knock ‘em ‘til you try them!

If you could have lunch with anyone in the world who would it be?
This is a tough one.  Alive: Ray Lewis.  Dead:  Maya Angelou.

Do you have any bizarre talents?
I’m freakishly talented at claw games – The kind you see at the boardwalk or bowling alley.  Weird, I know.


Say What? F&P Prevails Before the Appellate Court of Maryland on Hearing Loss Claim

A new reported opinion from the Appellate Court of Maryland (ACM) was issued earlier this month as it relates to occupational deafness claims.  The ACM was tasked with determining whether the last injurious exposure rule applies both to insurers and employers and if it applies to hearing loss claims.

F&P Counsel Mike Bennett represented the appellee, the City of Laurel, and delivered oral arguments at the ACM.  The appellant was the insurance company that provided coverage for Laurel during the majority, but not the entirety, of the claimant’s employment with them several decades ago.  Despite there being no dispute that the employment with Laurel contributed to the claimant’s hearing loss, the appellant argued that they were not responsible for covering the claim since they did not insure Laurel at the time of the claimant’s last injurious exposure with them. The appellant posited that the last injurious exposure rule applies only to insurers, and not employers, in hearing loss cases.

The ACM rejected the appellant’s argument and held that the last injurious exposure rule applies equally to employers and insurers; and that the last injurious exposure rule does not apply to hearing loss claims. In reaching its conclusion, the appellate court went through the legislative history of the various statutes at play, the fact that §19-402(b)(5) of the Insurance Article explicitly states that an award against an employer is also binding against its insurer, and also rejected the public policy arguments advanced by the appellant.

Best Lawyers Announces 2024 Recipients

Best Lawyers has released its “Best Lawyers” and “Ones to Watch” recipients for 2024. F&P is proud to announce 11 of our attorneys received this honor. Best Lawyers are selected exclusively through a peer review process based on practice area and geographic region. These evaluations examine the candidate’s quality of legal services, expertise, ethics, and professionalism. “Ones to Watch” employs the same methodology for attorneys still early in their careers.

Best Lawyers is the oldest peer-review publication in the legal industry. More than 142,000 lawyers worldwide have been recognized amongst 150 practice areas in 76 countries; more than 13 million lawyers were evaluated this year.

2024 Recipients Include:

Best Lawyers

Ralph Arnsdorf
Tamara Goorevitz
Maija Jackson (first-time recipient)
Bert Randall
Lynn Fitzpatrick

Ones to Watch

Michael Bennett
Renee Bowen
James Hetzel
Heather Rice
Ellen Stewart (first-time recipient)

For more information about Best Lawyers, visit the website at www.bestlawyers.com.

F&P Spotlight on Maija Jackson, a Founding Firm Principal

What is your practice area, and how did you choose it?
When I was in Law school at UB, I clerked for a Plaintiff’s law firm.  When one of their attorneys left the firm, I was asked to manage their workers’ compensation claims on a day-to-day basis to get them ready for hearings.  I took Richard LaFata’s workers’ compensation class at UB Law School at night.  After passing the Maryland bar, I became an attorney at that firm, but quickly realized that I looked at the claims from the defense perspective.  I moved on to defense work and have never looked back in almost 40 years.  I have been a founding principal at Franklin & Prokopik in the workers’ compensation practice group for the past 24 years.

What is your favorite aspect of working at F&P?
I love the people I work with.  I truly enjoy my clients.  The collaborative effort is so important.  I feel that we have built a firm that really tries to manage the work/life balance.  We have managed to weather the untimely passing of our principal Bob Franklin as well as the COVID-19 pandemic, and will undoubtedly face challenges in the future as our world changes and evolves.  But I am confident in the strength of the bond with my colleagues and the fact that we all have our complementary strengths and skills that we bring to the operation, management and development of the firm.  I am proud to be associated with F&P and look forward to many years ahead.

What’s your favorite restaurant/show/event in Baltimore?
I love the Kinetic Sculpture Race in May in Baltimore City!  One of my sons participated in the design, construction and racing of entries while he was in high school.  It’s a fantastic event which starts and ends at the American Visual Arts Museum on Key Highway and travels throughout Federal Hill, the Inner Harbor, Fells Point, Canton, and Patterson Park.  It’s a great way to spend a spring day and root on the competitors and engineers.

Tell us something about you that few of your colleagues and clients would know.
My parents met as pen pals and corresponded originally in French.

What do you like to do outside the office?
Exercise, martial arts, stamp collecting, caring for my two cats and my dog, and traveling with my family.

What is the weirdest thing you have ever eaten?
A Fig Newton doused in ketchup.  It was a 5th grade lunch dare, and while it was not awful, I have never repeated it.

If you could have lunch with anyone in the world, who would it be?
Wow, so many people come to mind, some living and some no longer with us.  I would love to have had lunch with Robin Williams, but I fear that I would never have gotten to eat because I would have been laughing too hard.  Emma Thompson and Queen Elizabeth II are but a few others.

If you had an eighth day every week, how would you spend it?
Relaxing, reading, and rejuvenating to face the new week.

Supreme Court of Maryland Denies Further Appeals in Warehouse Shooting Case

In Winter 2023, firm principals Ralph Arnsdorf and Heather Rice obtained a favorable ruling from Maryland’s Appellate Court in a case resulting from a mass shooting that occurred at a warehouse in Aberdeen, Maryland. Maryland’s Appellate Court found no liability for the employer (a temp agency) or the landowner when an employee shot and killed several people at the workplace and then turned the gun on herself. The court found that the shooting was unforeseeable, and neither the employer nor the landowner could have avoided the danger the employee posed to the workplace. To read the entire article, click here.

On June 20, 2023, the Supreme Court of Maryland denied the plaintiffs’ Petition for Grant of Cert to have the appeal heard in the highest appellate Court in Maryland and will not hear any further appeals regarding this case. The judgment obtained by Ralph and Heather for their client will stand. To read the order, click here.

Mounting Pressure on the Use of Owner-Operators

Originally published in the Spring/Summer 2023 edition of the MMTA publication “Behind the Wheel.”


Motor carriers have faced more than their fair share of challenges in recent years, including driver shortages, increasing fuel prices, and a myriad of other issues spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic.  Now, one of the most significant threats to the trucking industry is the issue of employee misclassification involving owner-operators.  Should an owner-operator be found to have been misclassified as an independent contractor instead of an employee, the motor carrier can be subject to a wide range of legal claims.  Class action attorneys have targeted motor carriers on these types of issues given the potential for significant attorney fee awards should they prevail on misclassification claims.

Increasing scrutiny of the misclassification issue is occurring at the state and federal level and is involving both legislative and regulatory initiatives.  Two of the most noteworthy efforts, California Assembly Bill 5 (“AB5”), passed in 2019, and the U.S. Department of Labor’s (“DOL”) recent push to redefine the term “independent contractor.”  Motor carriers that utilize owner-operators are wise to stay abreast of these legal developments and prepare for potential changes by evaluating the ways in which they classify and utilize owner-operators.

Key State Legislative Developments:

California’s Assembly Bill 5

State legislatures are increasing their focus on owner-operator relationships.  Laws such as California’s Assembly Bill 5 (“AB5”), make it more difficult for companies to use owner-operators.  Under AB5, the relationship between truckers and their carriers, brokers, and even shippers will now be governed by the “ABC” test in California to determine whether the trucker is an employee or an independent contractor.  The California Supreme Court first recognized the test in Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court (2018) 4 Cal.5th 903.  The Dynamex ruling established a presumption that all workers are employees unless the employer can prove otherwise.  Now, in order to be considered an independent contractor under the law, the below three prongs must be satisfied:

  1. The worker is free from the control and direction of the hiring entity;
  2. The worker performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business; AND
  3. The worker is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as the work performed.

AB5 and similar legislation can fundamentally change the way trucking companies do business across the country.  Carriers may have to reclassify their formerly independent drivers to employees, or they will have to drastically change the way the two parties do business in order to avoid claims of misclassification.  Independent drivers will have less flexibility in choosing their work, and companies will be required to provide benefits and certain wages to their newly-recognized employees.  Many experts believe the legislation will increase labor costs, thereby creating additional costs for consumers.

It is important to recognize that AB5 does not directly ban owner-operators, but the legislation does make it much more difficult for trucking companies to utilize them without incurring sizable legal risk. to use them.  Other states, such as Illinois, New Jersey, Washington, and New York, have considered similar legislation, and there is fear that many other jurisdictions will attempt to implement these types of changes.

The Biden Administration’s Efforts

Additionally, the Biden administration has identified employee misclassification as a key objective.  President Joe Biden has vowed to be “the most pro-union president you’ve ever seen.” Shortly after President Biden took office, the Department of Labor attempted to reverse a new definition of “independent contractor” that the Labor Department published in January 2021, the final days of the Trump Administration; however, courts held that the Biden administration did not allow for enough time for public comment.  The DOL is again working on rewriting the definition.

Most recently, a DOL proposed rule would make it more difficult for companies to classify workers as independent contractors under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), a change that is expected to shake up many industries that rely on gig workers or owner-operators, including the trucking industry.  The proposal would require that workers be considered employees when they are “economically dependent” on a company.  This will ensure that the employees are entitled to more benefits and legal protections than if the workers were identified as independent contractors, such as minimum wage and workers’ compensation benefits.

Worker dependency would be determined by the “economic realities test,” which is made up of six factors: the extent to which the work performed is an integral part of the hiring entity’s business; the worker’s opportunity for profit or for loss; the nature and extent of the worker’s investment in his or her business; whether the work performed requires special skills or education; the permanency of the relationship between both parties; and the degree of control exercised by the employer.  While several of the factors could potentially present problems to employers, the test appears to be less restrictive than the ABC test mentioned above.

Independent Contractors in Maryland

Under general Maryland law, courts determine whether a worker is an independent contractor or employee based upon several criteria, including:  (1) who has the right to control and direct the work; (2) who has the right to select and/or discharge the worker that will perform the work; (3) how wages are paid; (4) whether the work is part of the employer’s regular business; and (6) the intention of the parties when entering into the relationship.

Two specific areas of law, involving workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance, have their own statutes and corresponding regulations that more clearly delineate the factors that the respective agencies will rely upon when determining whether an owner-operator is an employee for purposes of their respective benefits.  Motor carriers are strongly encouraged to ensure that their equipment leases and/or transportation service agreements comply with those specific statutes in order to lessen their exposure to workers’ compensation and unemployment benefits.

Practical Considerations

Motor carriers must keep a keen eye on these legal developments while continuing to evaluate their use of owner-operators.  Below are some of the ways that some motor carriers are preparing for changes to the legal landscape:

  1. Updating Owner-Operator Agreements

While the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act (“FMCSA”) imposes many requirements on motor carriers wishing to utilize owner-operators as part of their business models, the FMCSA still allows some flexibility in the use of owner-operators.  As a result, motor carriers have choices in how they can draft these types of agreements.  By carefully exercising their discretion in what optional provisions to include or exclude, motor carriers can help limit their exposure in misclassification claims.

  1. Initiating a Brokerage Arm

A second option that some motor carriers are gravitating towards is to open a brokerage entity to govern their relationships with their owner-operators. This brokerage-type relationship will likely pass the “B” prong of the above test because brokers are technically outside of the course of the hiring entity’s and independent driver’s business.

There are additional costs in establishing a broker arm, but this is may be a viable option for some.  Many carriers now see the broker model as an option to avoid hiring full-time employee drivers if legislative measures chip away at, or eliminate altogether, the traditional owner-operator model.

Two events must occur in order to make the brokerage model sufficient:

  1. The licensed motor carrier must establish a brokerage operation.
  2. Owner-operators must secure operating licenses as Licensed Motor Carriers (LMCs).

Many owner-operator drivers, especially in California, are already beginning to establish themselves as limited liability company (“LLC”).  The drivers can then receive loads from the trucking companies’ brokerage divisions. However, it can be a lot of work and money for an independent driver to file as a business entity such as a limited liability company and may not be a feasible option for every owner-operator.

  1. Two check system

Another potential solution to stricter legislation surrounding owner-operators is for carriers to pay their drivers using a two-check system.  Two-check systems have been around for years, although they’re not commonly used.  Under this system, the driver is not classified as an independent contractor, but, rather, is an actual employee of the motor carrier; however, the driver also has an agreement to rent his or her equipment to the motor carrier.  The first check is for the employee’s wages and the second is for the equipment rental.

There are potential areas of concern with this system if implemented improperly.  For example, some motor carriers believe that they can pay the driver minimum wage and put the rest of the money toward the truck’s rental.  The Internal Revenue Service may view this as shielding income, which can lead to legal ramifications.  Another issue is that a two-check system does not usually provide the flexibility that both motor carriers and owner-operators seek.

Certainly, there is no fail-safe method to eliminate legal risk altogether when utilizing any independent contractors, much less owner-operators which pose different legal challenges.  Having said that, motor carriers that pay attention to these legal developments and act quickly can dramatically reduce their legal exposure and help avoid being targeted by class-action lawyers and governmental auditors.

Written by principal Albert B. Randall, Jr. and associate Stephanie M. Broznowicz.



F&P Spotlight on Executive Assistant Amanda Zervas

What is your practice area, and how did you choose it?
I’m an Executive Assistant for the liability attorneys, though I didn’t choose liability, it was chosen for me.  When I originally applied at F&P 10 years ago, I was applying for the receptionist position but was asked if I’d be interested in trying something new and be an administrative assistant instead.  I’m glad I agreed to take on the new challenge and try a job I’ve never done before because I found out I really enjoy what I do now.

What is your favorite aspect of working at F&P?
In my experience at F&P, I’ve been a part of some amazing teams that support each other and work towards bettering each other.  I’ve learned so much from everyone I’ve had the pleasure to work for and with.  They’ve pushed me into new challenges, and I’ve gained knowledge that’s made me someone others can rely on when they need help.

What’s your proudest accomplishment?
My two boys would have to be my proudest, ongoing, accomplishment.  Seeing the little men I’m raising and doing my best to instill kindness, respect, acceptance, and values in them in hopes to enrich their futures.  I love seeing my boys use those skills I’m trying to teach them in their daily lives.

What do you like to do outside the office?
I like to spend as much time as possible with my kids since they’re only young once.  We enjoy being outside visiting different parks, playgrounds, and farms. We also enjoy doing crafting projects together for each upcoming holiday to decorate their playroom.

What is your favorite food?
I love sushi. That’s one type of food I can never turn down.

What is your all-time favorite city or town, and why?
My favorite city would have to be Orlando in Florida since that is where Disney World is located and our favorite place to vacation as a family.

What was the best news you ever received?
The best news I’ve received would have to be, after years of trying, when we found out that I was pregnant with our second child. My husband and I knew we wanted two children so finally finding out that we were going to complete our family was the best news.

What is the weirdest thing you have ever eaten?
I tried frog legs once.  It wasn’t terrible, but not something I need to have again.

Do you have any bizarre talents?
My arms are double-jointed.  I’m able to hold my hands behind my back and bring them over my head without letting go.


F&P Principal Obtains Favorable Verdict in Recent PG County Jury Trial

Last Tuesday, May 23, F&P principal Heather Rice secured a strong verdict after a two-day jury trial in the Circuit Court for Prince George’s County. The case arose from an August 2017 motor vehicle accident which resulted in serious property damage to the two vehicles involved.  Defendant accepted responsibility for the accident and the jury was tasked with determining whether Plaintiff was injured and if so, the extent of Plaintiff’s injuries. The Plaintiff’s claimed medical specials of approximately $16,000.00 were not contested.

In his closing argument, Plaintiff’s counsel argued that his client had suffered from a permanent injury and asked the jury to award Plaintiff $416,000.00 in damages. Ms. Rice utilized surveillance and the testimony of Plaintiff’s own treating provider to convince the jury that Plaintiff’s soft tissue injuries were resolved after two months of conservative treatment. After an hour of deliberation, the jury rejected Plaintiff’s $416,000.00 suggestion and instead returned a verdict awarding the Plaintiff $61,000.00.

F&P Assists with Workers’ Compensation Garnishment Legislation

F&P Principals John Handscomb and Bert Randall played integral roles in the development and passage of Maryland Senate Bill 71 and House Bill 800, sponsored by Senator Benjamin Brooks and Delegate Scott Phillips, respectively, regarding garnishment of child support arrearages in workers’ compensation cases.  Given statutory ambiguity, there has been a longstanding debate regarding the proper amount that should be withheld from indemnity payments for workers’ compensation claimants that owe child support.  These bills, signed into law by Governor Wes Moore on May 3, 2023, will go into effect on October 1, 2023, and will resolve this issue once and for all by permitting withholding amounts of up to 25% of the indemnity benefits due.  Major thanks go to Kimberly Shiloh, Chief of Staff for Senator Brooks, who was instrumental in having these bills introduced and passing unanimously in both chambers.


F&P Principals Ralph Arnsdorf and Heather Rice Obtain Favorable Ruling from Maryland’s Appellate Court

Firm principals Ralph Arnsdorf and Heather Rice recently obtained a favorable and reported ruling from Maryland’s Appellate Court (formerly the Maryland Court of Special Appeals) in a case resulting from a recent mass shooting event that occurred at a warehouse in Aberdeen, Maryland.  This is an important ruling and the first reported opinion regarding a mass shooting in the state of Maryland. 

 In affirming the lower court’s ruling, Maryland’s Appellate Court found no liability for an employer (in this case, a temp agency) or a landowner where an unstable employee came to the workplace with a gun, shot and killed several people and wounded others before turning the gun on herself.  The Court found that the temp agency and warehouse owner were not liable and the shooting was unforeseeable. Neither the employer nor the landowner could have known the employee was dangerous to the workplace.

 The employer conducted proper, thorough background checks, including criminal background searches, which is the expectation for all employers and their hiring practices. Greater scrutiny may be required when employees are expected to interact with the public on a regular basis. When businesses and landowners are aware or reasonably should be aware of criminal activity in the area, they need to exercise reasonable efforts to provide adequate security in the workplace, including, but not limited to, surveillance and security personnel.

 Please contact Ralph Arnsdorf or Heather Rice with any questions on this opinion, and/or assistance evaluating future risks.

Click here to read the full opinion.