Search Results for ‘maryland pit bull’

Maryland pit bull law: “Lawyers will have the last bite”

In the aftermath of a controversial decision by the state’s highest court (earlier here, here, here, here), etc.) the Maryland legislature is proceeding in its task of devising new rules to govern lawsuits over dog bite injuries:

But the House and Senate versions differ markedly on legal liability for a pet owner when his or her dog bites someone. The House bill would allow an owner to show a “preponderance of the evidence” that a pet did not have a tendency to bite. The Senate version requires a stricter legal standard of “clear and convincing” proof that the dog is not aggressive — making it easier for victims of bites to sue and win.

It does not require a law degree to figure out that without clear rules on what makes a dog safe, lawyers will see bite victims as cash cows. [Sen. Bobby] Zirkin, a Democrat from Baltimore County, [who sits on the Judicial Proceedings Committee that crafted the bill,] apparently already does. A visit to his website,, makes it clear. One of the first images is a white dog that looks like a pit bull, teeth bared, lunging against its leash.

After noting that victims of dog bites should seek medical attention, he suggests they “Call the Law Office of Bobby Zirkin at 410-356-4455 immediately and come in for your free consultation on this important matter.”

The committee’s chair, Sen. Brian Frosh of Montgomery County, also practices with an injury firm, though his own practice tends toward commercial disputes. [Marta Mossburg, Frederick News-Post] Incidentally, the weekly adopt-an-animal feature of the same newspaper is now filled with pictures of ownerless dogs with pit bull lineage.

Maryland pit bull ruling: careful what you ask for

Last month Maryland’s highest court, adopting what is known as a “breed-specific” standard, declared pit bulls inherently dangerous and subject to strict liability for their owners. Humane and rescue activists were alarmed at the prospect of insurance-rate pressure on pit owners and an influx into animal shelters of surrendered pets who, even if well-behaved, might prove unadoptable and end up euthanized. They should have been careful what they asked for. A panel of the Maryland House of Delegates headed by Del. Curt Anderson (D-Baltimore) has now taken up the issue and apparently plans to address the complained-of breed disparity by proposing to extend strict liability to all breeds of dog, abolishing the longstanding “one-bite” rule that shields owners from responsibility where a pet has not previously been known to cause trouble. Why is it somehow not surprising that in Annapolis the views of attorneys would hold more sway and those of dog-rescue folks less? [AP, Julie Scharper/Baltimore Sun, more background: Miller.

Maryland pit bull ruling, cont’d

It’s presumably an intended effect of the recent court ruling that landlords will threaten families with eviction unless they stop keeping the dogs as pets, and that skittish insurers will hike rates on such households sharply or refuse to insure them entirely. But there is much uncertainty as to exactly which dogs count as “pit bulls”; will Maryland pet owners need to shell out for DNA testing, at $120 a pop? And is it also an intended effect of the ruling that unoffending, well-trained dogs end up being euthanized in droves? “Ohio recently repealed its statewide breed-specific legislation because it was ineffective and inequitable,” notes my Cato Institute colleague Nita Ghei. [Daily Caller, earlier]

Maryland appeals court: all pit bulls dangerous

The Gazette (suburban Maryland) on a 4-3 Maryland Court of Appeals decision:

Animal shelters and rescue organizations across Maryland are bracing for an influx of surrendered pit bulls in the wake of a state high court ruling that declared the breed “inherently dangerous.”

The decision strengthened a 1998 ruling that landlords can be held liable for dog attacks.

The Maryland Court of Appeals ruling last week modified the state’s common law of liability, establishing a standard that when owners or landlords have knowledge a pit bull or pit-bull mix is living on their property, it is not necessary to prove they had knowledge the dog was dangerous to be held liable.

The Frederick News-Post:

As a result of the decision, the Frederick County Animal Control shelter has temporarily suspended adoptions of pit bulls and pit bull mixes, director Harold Domer said Tuesday.

Arin Greenwood writes at Huffington Post of her 14-year relationship with a “sweet, spoiled and beloved” family member “who perhaps never knew that she was a pit bull”. More: NBC Washington; opinion in Tracey v. Solesky (PDF).

More: Ron Miller’s view. And from Twitter, @radleybalko (“An opinion as useless as it is ignorant,”) @Popehat (“Mine wants to lick me to death,”) and @sbagen (“Breed bans lack scientific support, hurt persons with disabilities with service dogs.”)

Maryland roundup

Hans Bader on the Maryland cyber-bullying bill

He follows up on my criticism from yesterday:

Under the First Amendment, the government has far less power to restrict speech when it acts as a sovereign (such as when it criminally prosecutes people for their speech) than when it uses non-criminal disciplinary tools to regulate speech in its own government offices or (in certain circumstances) the public schools. …

… Maryland’s law restricts speech in society generally, by both minors and adults. The government obviously cannot rely on public school officials’ custodial and tutelary power over student speech to restrict the speech of adult non-students, much less their speech outside the schools. … The fact that speech is emotionally distressing may be a factor in whether to discipline a student for it under school rules, but it is not a justification for criminal prosecution, or even, generally speaking, a tort lawsuit. …

Activists claim bullying is an “epidemic” and a “pandemic.” But in reality, the rate of bullying has steadily diminished in the nation’s schools.

More: Mike Masnick at TechDirt criticizes the new law and kindly quotes my piece.

Maryland roundup

  • Md. Access to Justice Commission pushes controversial Civil Gideon, lopsided fee shift rules [report]
  • Montgomery County voters will decide on extending police collective bargaining [WaPo]
  • “Baltimore: The city that sues the banks” [Fortune]
  • “New Pit Bull Dog Bite Law in Maryland? Not So Fast” [Ron Miller, earlier] “Landlords Held Responsible For Pit Bull Injuries; Tenants Face Eviction and Legal Battle” [CBS Baltimore]
  • Maryland pays far higher fees to investment managers for its pension fund than most states do. How’d that happen? And should states rely on index investments instead? [Governing]
  • Legislature not final word? State’s high court mulls ditching contributory for comparative fault [WaPo]
  • Business appalled at Montgomery County Council bill requiring 90 day severance to service contractors’ employees [Washington Examiner, Gazette]

Maryland roundup

I’ve been writing more lately on policy issues arising in my adopted state, such as the boat tax and Baltimore’s fight with liquor stores, and you can keep up by following my local Twitter account @walterolsonmd:

  • If you think the current federal crusade on disparate minority school discipline rates is unreasonable, check out the Maryland state board of education’s even loopier plans for racial quotas in discipline [Hans Bader and letter, Roger Clegg/Center for Equal Opportunity] “However, there’s no plan for gender balance in school discipline.” [Joanne Jacobs]
  • After the state’s high court stigmatized pit bulls as distinctively dangerous, the state legislature has (as warned of in this space) reacted by extending liability to owners of all dogs, “first bite” or not [WaPo] “The trial lawyer’s expert just testified he sees dogs as a man or woman’s ego on the end of a leash.” [Mike Smigiel]
  • A Washington Post article asks: “Is the ‘nanny state’ in Montgomery working?” (No, but it makes councilors in the affluent liberal redoubt feel good about themselves.) And even in Montgomery, councilman George Leventhal (D-At Large) spots a Laffer Curve [Dan Mitchell, Cato at Liberty]
  • Also in Montgomery, county slates vote next month on union-backed bill to require service contractors to take over employment of displaced workers for 90 days [Gazette] Leventhal is caustic: “I do not only work for SEIU 32BJ. My colleagues may feel they do.” [Rachel Baye, Examiner]
  • Despite its solicitude for the SEIU, the county’s concern for low-income workers has its limits, as when property owners seek to increase the stock of affordable housing near jobs by dividing one-family residences into two-family [Ben Ross, Greater Greater Washington]
  • “Doctors, hospitals concerned about hefty malpractice awards” [Baltimore Sun]
  • MD public pension planners whistle through graveyard [Hayley Peterson, Washington Examiner, Tom Coale/HoCoRising, Ivan Osorio, CEI “Open Market”] The state still hasn’t shaken its AAA bond rating, but Annapolis lawmakers are working to change that by unionizing more state workers [Washington Times]

July 27 roundup

March 23 roundup

  • Never know who’ll benefit: supersedeas appeal bond limits, sought by tort reformers, may now save Gawker from ruin [WLF, earlier] Plus a Florida appellate court ruling on newsworthiness, and other reasons the scurrilous media outlet is hoping for better luck on appeal if it can get past the bond hurdle [Politico New York]
  • Governance in Indian country: Native American lawyer Gabe Galanda disbarred by Nooksack tribe while fighting disenrollment of some of its members [Seattle Times, followup (tribal judge rules due process was lacking, but in so doing, as employee serving at tribe’s pleasure, “potentially left herself open to being fired”)]
  • Revenge of the broken-winged pterodactyl: Maryland Democrats accuse each other of complicity in gerrymander in fight for Van Hollen’s House seat [me at Free State Notes]
  • Oh, DoJ: “enforced donation to ‘public service’ organizations that just happen to support the ruling party’s goals” [Jeb Kinnison citing this post of ours on mortgage settlements]
  • “Trump’s long trail of litigation” [Brody Mullins and Jim Oberman, WSJ; our earlier here, here, here, etc.]
  • Lansing prosecutor, an “outspoken advocate for ending human trafficking and prostitution,” now facing charges of go ahead and guess [WILX; our Eliot Spitzer coverage]