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Personal injury and insurance law attorneys share their expertise in Maryland accident lawsuits, trial litigation and other legal news.
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With General Assembly Inaction, Pit Bulls Remain “Inherently Dangerous”

The Maryland General Assembly concluded its recent regular session without action on legislation to modify the Court of Appeals’ decision in Tracey v. Solesky holding that pit bulls are “inherently dangerous.”

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Yogi Berra: A Legal Authority

“I really didn’t say everything I said.” – Yogi Berra.  While such may be true, what this poet/philosopher of the baseball diamond did say is quoted widely by courts nationwide.

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Christmas Roads Are Dangerous -- Put Your Little One in a Child Safety Seat

In the U.S., auto accidents are the number one killer of children aged 1 to 12.  To keep your child safe during your holiday highway trips, place each one in a child safety seat.


According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2010 crash data indicates that an average of nearly 2 children (age 12 and younger in a passenger vehicle) were killed and 325 were injured each day.   NHTSA reports that this fatality rate could be reduced by about half if the correct child safety seat were always used.

Recognizing that the best way to protect children from auto accidents is to put them in child safety seats, Maryland law generally requires each person transporting a child under 8 years of age in a motor vehicle to secure the child in a child safety seat.  Md. Code Ann., Transp. § 22-412.2(d).  Any person convicted of violating this section is subject to a $25 fine.

Protect your child.  Get the right car safety seat for your youngster and use it.  If you need more information about finding the right child safety seat, installing the seat, or securing your child in the seat, go to http://www.safercar.gov/parents/carseats.htm

 

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Featured

Is a Skateboarder a Pedestrian or a Driver?

In Maryland, the answer to this question begins with another question: Is the skateboard a vehicle?

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Upon Further Review: A Penalty on Maryland Sports, or Reasonable Compensation?

Debates over University of Maryland’s controversial decision to leave the Atlantic Coast Conference for the Big Ten were inflamed once news spread that UMD is now contractually obligated to pay a $52 million “exit fee” to the ACC.  But is it?

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Punishing an Employer for the Acts of a Dishonest Employee

May punitive damages be entered against an employer whose employee engaged in dishonest acts?  In the view of the Maryland Court of Appeals, if the employee acted within the scope of his employment when he did so, the answer is – Yes.

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Winning Only Half The Battle: Liability Without Damages

In a lead paint trial earlier this month, a Baltimore City jury found a defendant landlord negligent, but declined to award damages to the plaintiffs. 

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A Crash Course in Distracted Driving

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration describes distracted driving as a “dangerous epidemic on America’s roadways.”  Combating this epidemic are a group of Howard County high school students.

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CAUTION: Student Driver | CAUTION: Careless Driving Instructor

While with his driving instructor, a student driver is involved in an auto accident.  May the driving instructor be responsible?  In Maryland, the answer is found in the 1970 decision of Greenway v. Graft.

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Buckle Up for Your Turkey Trot

Happy Thanksgiving!  And if you are traveling on the highway this holiday, be sure to buckle up.

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Sovereign Immunity Rides DC Metro

While you might expect the phrase “sovereign immunity” to live in the palaces of kings and queens, you may be surprised to learn that this ancient royal doctrine also rides DC Metro.


Sovereign immunity is a legal doctrine which precludes suit against the government without its consent.  Based upon the ancient rule that the king can do no wrong, the doctrine bars suit against the State for the torts of its officers or employees unless such immunity has been waived expressly by statute or by necessary inference from legislative enactment.

As discussed in greater detail in Joseph G. Cleaver’s October 30, 2012 post (http://kramerslaw.com/blog/), the Maryland Court of Appeals recently applied this doctrine to two separate cases where women slipped, fell and were injured on wet floors at Metrorail stations.  The Court held that plaintiffs were precluded from asserting their tort claims against WMATA because the Interstate Compact governing the Agency granted immunity to governmental functions.  Because the floor cleaning decisions of WMATA employees implicated governmental functions, the Court ruled that the WMATA was immune from these suits.

While sovereign immunity still lives and rides in DC and Maryland, that immunity is often limited.  If you are injured as a result of the actions of a government agency or employee in DC or Maryland, consult an attorney to discover the rights and limitations existing under the law that affect your ability to obtain recovery.

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Assumption of the Risk and Contributory Negligence: Separate and Distinct Defenses in Personal Injury Actions

Where evidence exists to generate both defenses, a jury must have the opportunity on a verdict sheet to consider these separate and distinct defenses.

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In a Personal Injury Case, When Is a Danger So Obvious as to Bar Recovery?

"I wish I had an answer to that because I'm tired of answering that question." – Yogi Berra.

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Pit Bull Legislation in the Dog Days of August?

If every dog has its day, pit bull owners wonder when the Maryland General Assembly will consider legislation to overturn the Court of Appeals’ decision declaring the breed “inherently dangerous.”

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Court of Appeals Allows Maryland Dream Act Referendum to Proceed

Affirming the decision of Judge Ronald Silkworth of the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County, Maryland’s highest Court ordered yesterday that the Maryland Dream Act should proceed to referendum in November.

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Court of Appeals Considers Challenge to the Maryland Dream Act

Before voters can decide the fate of Maryland's Dream Act, the Court of Appeals must decide whether voters can decide in the first place.

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The Pit Bully Pulpit: Legislators Create a Dog Day Task Force

Believing that the Court of Appeals barked up the wrong tree in declaring pit bulls to be "inherently dangerous," legislative leaders have formed a task force to find ways around the controversial decision.

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Strict Liability for Pit Bull Attacks: A Doggone Shame?

In an opinion sure to infuriate pit bull owners and scare landlords, Maryland’s highest court has made owning pit bulls the equivalent of possessing canine TNT.


Landlords, beware.  In the case of Tracey v. Solesky, the Maryland Court of Appeal's opinion imposed strict liability upon pit bull owners for injuries caused by their dogs.

By a vote of 4-3, the Court held that such strict liability extends to "a landlord who has the right and/or opportunity to prohibit such dogs on leased premises."  Reviewed several recent pit bull attacks that have left significant scars on their victims and the law, the four-judge majority did not believe that any dog within this breed could be considered safe. "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."

Although there is no law on the books banning the breed, or making it a crime to own one, the Court handed down "a strict liability standard in respect to the owning, harboring or control of pit bulls and cross-bred pit bulls" even if the owner had no knowledge of any otherwise dangerous tendencies of his or her particular pet.

Coming to the defense of the breed, three judges thought their brethren were barking up the wrong tree.  In their dissent, these jurists expressed the view that the "majority opinion delivers an unenlightening and unworkable rule regarding mixed-breed dogs. How much 'pit bull' must there be in a dog to bring it within the strict liability edict? How will that be determined? What rationale exists for any particular percentage of the genetic code to trigger strict liability?"

Which side of the fence are you on?  Should pit bulls be innocent until proven dangerous?  Is this a doggone shame, or was the majority right to hold these dogs on a short legal leash?

You may read the Court's decision here. What do you think?

Tracey v. Solesky
April 26, 2012

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