A few months ago, the Maryland high court ruled in Tracey v. Solesky, that in dog bite cases involving a pit bull or cross-bred pit bull mix, a plaintiff no longer needs to show that the dog in particular, or pit bulls in general, are dangerous in order to bring a claim against both the dog’s owner and the landlord – the deep pocket in many dog bite claims. (You can find my posts on this case (here and here). This opinion was one of the most controversial tort opinions issue by a Maryland court in recent years. (NOTE: THIS LAW DID NOT PASS BUT THE MARYLAND HIGH COURT ACTED ON ITS OWN TO REVERSE PART OF THIS RULING.)
The new law may not last long. The Maryland Senate took a quick break from its efforts to bring table gambling within 100 yards of every man, woman, and child in Maryland and passed a new law that would create a strict liability standard for owners – but specifically not landlords – in all dog bite cases. The vote was a whopping 41-1, with Carroll County Republican Joe Getty casting the only dissenting vote. Senator Getty apparently claims that dogs are people too, just like corporations. (I may have made that up.)
The bill goes next to the Maryland House of Delegates where you have to think – given the landslide in the Senate – that the bill will pass easily.