No free munch for Maryland pitbulls
Well no more, at least not in Maryland, and at least as long as the recent 4-3 decision of the State's highest court lies undisturbed by an "activist" legislature. Oooops, It's courts what be derogotorally "activists". Legislatures are supposed to be non-derogotorally "activist", which they can't be if all they are is obstructionist. But Guambat digests.
The case is Tracey v. Solesky(COURT OF APPEALS OF MARYLAND No. 53, September Term, 2011):
In Maryland the vicious mauling of young children by pit bulls occurred as early as 1916. Over the last thirteen years, there have been no less than seven instances of serious maulings by pit bulls upon Maryland residents resulting in either serious injuries or death that have reached the appellate courts of this State, including the two boys attacked by the pit bull in the present case. Five of the pit bull attacks in Maryland have been brought to the attention of this Court, and two have reached the Court of Special Appeals.The dissent pointed out that hard facts make bad law, and the making of bad law was the perogative of the legislature.
The present case involves an attack by a pit bull named Clifford. Notwithstanding his
relatively benign name, Clifford possessed aggressive and vicious characteristics. He escaped twice from an obviously inadequate small pen attacked at least two boys at different times on the same day.
Here, the trial court granted a judgment for the defendant landlord at the close of the Plaintiff’s case on the grounds that, according to the trial judge, the evidence was insufficient to permit the issue of common law negligence to be presented to the jury.
On the state of the common law relating to dog attacks in existence at that time, the trial court was correct.
We are modifying the Maryland common law of liability as it relates to attacks by pit
bull and cross-bred pit bull dogs against humans.
With the standard we establish today (which is to be applied in this case on remand), when an owner or a landlord is proven to have knowledge of the presence of a pit bull or cross-bred pit bull (as both the owner and landlord did in this case) or should have had such knowledge, a prima facie case is established.
It is not necessary that the landlord (or the pit bull’s owner) have actual knowledge that the specific pit bull involved is dangerous. Because of its aggressive and vicious nature and its capability to inflict serious and sometimes fatal injuries, pit bulls and cross-bred pit bulls are inherently dangerous.
It's an interesting and easily readable (if not digestible) opinion.
Guambat points out that no one is ever liable if that child-friendly, lovable peace-nik pitbull behaves itself.