Summary Judgment Unclean Hands In Maryland
In Niner v. Hanson, 217 Md. 298, 309, 142 A.2d 798 (1958) ("Hence an impropriety that has been purged is not a bar."). Sherwood merely confirms the central purpose of the unclean hands doctrine; we are not concerned with the party's impropriety, but with cloaking that misconduct in legitimacy. Where the impropriety has been corrected, or where it is unrelated to the claim before the court, we can rest assured that judicial resources will not be exerted to perpetuate fraud or inequity.
summary judgment is inappropriate when there is a question of motive or intent. DiGrazia v. County Executive for Montgomery County, 288 Md. 437, 418 A.2d 1191 (1980).
A more complete recitation of that proposition, however, is that "summary judgment generally is inappropriate when matters such as knowledge, intent or motive that ordinarily are reserved for resolution by the fact-finder are essential elements of the plaintiff's case or the defense." Brown, 357 Md. at 355; see also Clea v. Mayor & City Council of Baltimore, 312 Md. 662, 677, 541 A.2d 1303
The Company v. Sherwood Distilling Company, 177 Md. 455, 9 A.2d 842 (1939) case involved a trademark dispute. the defendant attempted to bar plaintiff's claim because plaintiff's whiskey products bore a misleading label for a period of time.
Following a change in the law, however, plaintiff promptly modified the label. the Court of Appeals declined to invoke the unclean hands maxim since plaintiff purged the impropriety.
the maxim has nothing to do with retribution or punishment, or with disapproval of the character or past behavior of the applicant, but only with the effect of his present application.
Consequently, when there has been a question of the propriety of conduct of an applicant in the past, but the applicant has corrected any alleged mistake and complied with the suggestions of the Court, his impropriety should be considered as closed and should not debar him from relief.