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Posts tagged ‘pit bulls’

Court of Appeals Takes Another Bite at Tracey v. Solesky

     “It’s a mystery! It’s a mystery wrapped in a riddle inside an enigma! The *@*%#&^ shooters don’t even know! Don’t you get it?”     – David Ferrie (Joe Pesci) to Jim Garrison (Kevin Costner) in the movie “JFK”

On the heels of the legislature’s failure to address the quagmire created by the Court of Appeals’ April ruling in Tracey v. Solesky, where the Court decreed that all pit bulls and cross-breed pit bulls were inherently dangerous and imposed a strict liability standard against owners and anyone harboring such dogs, the Court issued a revised ruling yesterday after a motion to reconsider was filed by Tracey’s attorneys.   In the initial decision, the Court of Appeals ruled that if a person is attacked by a dog that is a pit bull or a pit bull mix (a cross-breed pit bull), then the owner, or any other person (which in this case included a landlord) who has the right to control the pit bull’s presence on the subject premises who knows or should know that the dog is a pit bull or cross-breed pit bull, is strictly liable for the plaintiff’s damages.  This ruling, with respect to pit bulls and cross-breed pit bulls, abrogated the former common law negligence standard applicable to dog owners that required evidence that the owner knew or should have known that the specific dog had dangerous propensities.  This decision received harsh public criticism for its breed-specific stance, its harsh application of strict liability to landlords and other potential third persons who do not own the dog, and the overwhelming confusion that would be caused by determining what constituted a “pit bull or cross-breed pit bull” or what standard should be applied for determining whether a person should know that the dog is a “pit bull or cross-breed pit bull.”

In its revised ruling, Read more

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Maryland Legislature Rolls Over and Plays Dead on Pit Bull Legislation

               “Woof!”  – Gracie the Dog (trusted friend, avid squirrel chaser, and Pit Bull…or was she?)

               “Succumbing to the allure of bad facts leads inevitably to the development of bad law.” – Judge Clayton Greene, in his dissent in Tracey v. Solesky

In April, the Court of Appeals, by a 4-3 margin, issued a decision in the case of Tracey v. Solesky that effectively designated all “pit bulls” and “cross-bred pit bulls” as inherently dangerous animals, and the Court determined that the owning, harboring or controlling of these dogs was an inherently dangerous activity.  This resulted in the Court applying a strict liability standard against any person owning, harboring, or controlling pit bulls for any injuries stemming from a pit bull attack.  This was the first instance where a Maryland Court established a breed-specific standard of liability for dog attacks.  Liability stemming from owning, harboring, or controlling any non-pit bull dog remains subject to the old common law standard of whether the owner knew or should have known about the dog’s dangerous propensities.  In addition to the breed-specific nature of the ruling, the significant consequence of the Court’s opinion was that it applied this strict liability standard, not to the owner of the dog,  but to the owner’s landlord when the landlord knows or should know of the existence of a pit bull on the premises. Read more