In a decision issued this Spring, the Maryland Court of Appeals ruled that dog owners and landlords are "strictly liable" for injuries caused by pit bulls they own or pit bulls that live on their properties. This decision reverses long-standing negligence law in Maryland, and imposes the strictest liability standards on owners and landlords under law.
Because "strict liability" leaves a defendant with no defense against properly filed claims, landlords were unsure of how to protect themselves from liability short of forcing pit bull owners to remove their dogs from the property or face eviction.
To address this problem, the Maryland General Assembly introduced legislation during its August special session to reverse the Court of Appeals decision as it applies to landlords, and to provide additional leniency to some pet owners. Unfortunately, the House and Senate could not agree on the provisions that should be included in the bill, and thus it was not passed by the Senate in the final hours of the Special Session. It is expected that additional legislation will be considered in the coming 2013 Legislature.
In the meantime, the Court's decision is on hold while the Court determines whether it will reconsider its decision.