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.”
The Court’s April 2012 decision imposed strict liability upon pit bull owners and their landlords for injuries caused by such dogs. The case arose from an incident six years ago where a pit bull named Clifford attacked and nearly killed a 10 year old Baltimore County boy.
As crafted by the Senate, the proposed measure would have required dog owners to prove by clear and convincing evidence they had no prior knowledge that their dog was prone to biting for incidents involving victims 12 and younger in order to avoid liability. For dog bites involving persons 13 and older, owners would have had to prove the same by a lesser standard – by a preponderance of the evidence. If the victim was trespassing or was bitten while committing a crime, the requirement would not apply.
While the State Senate approved the compromise measure 47-0 on Monday, the measure stalled in the House of Delegates.
It is virtually certain that the General Assembly will consider the matter again in its 2014 regular session.