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Maryland High Court Flips on Pit Bull Dog Bite Law

Now this is a shock. The Maryland Court of Appeals ends it summer of avoiding personal injury cases with a vengeance by reconsidering and overruling its own controversial ruling on strict liability for pit bull attacks. The court reversed course and decided that the ruling should only apply to purebred dogs in Tracey v. Solesky. Wow!

“The majority (of which I was a part) erred in gratuitously applying strict liability to crossbreds, when that issue was never in the case,” Judge Alan M. Wilner wrote in rescinding the court’s order. Judge Wilner also pointed out how rare it is for an appellate court to grant a motion for reconsideration. (Note
Wow. This move deserves at least two “wows.”

This is the right call. The “part pit bull” was going to be a hornets’ nest on every level. It just did not make sense.

But is this what the court should have done? For my money, the Maryland Court of Appeals has more “fair court” bona fides than the U.S. Supreme Court where every decision seems to be an extension of partisan politics. The Maryland Court of Appeals plays it straight – no one accuses them of ruling based on their politics and who nominated them to the court. But to bend to public opinion the way this court has, going back and changing their opinion after the Maryland legislature did not bail them out… let’s just say it is not a credibility enhancer for the court. So, I admire the court’s guts in fixing a mistake while worrying that fixing the mistake the way they did was a mistake (if that makes sense). Still, I find myself thinking this was the right move.

You can find the court’s new opinion here and the summary of the old opinion here.

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  • nikki perrett

    Wow. i have a 6 year old pit that is gracious and loving. but im looking for a rental in baltimore city and im constantly denied because of the breed of my dog, not her character. it puts people like me in a tight spot, because i would never give my animal up, but how am i supposed to find a place to live with my dog? And i am a woman, living alone, in a big city. cmon people get your heads out you know where and think of this logically. people are going to leace the city, there will be more animals euthanized and more for adoption, and more available for micheal vick wanna be’s to fight and maim abd beat the bark out of. this is inhumane and selfish. im an upstanding member of the community, i pay taxes, im a successful chef. i alreadt had to jump through hoops to get to a woman, but now i have to do the same because of my dog. its BS really.

  • http://www.alpersteinanddiener.com/ Pamela Simmons

    I agree with Nikki, this is really just not acceptable. I for one love Pitbulls and am frustrated with the laws. It is difficult enough to own a breed that others feel are a threat to their person.