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Maryland Court of Appeals Revises Pit Bull Ruling — Strict Liability Remains For Owners Of Pure Breds and Their Landlords But Not Cross Breds

After granting a motion to reconsider its ruling imposing strict liability on the owners of pit bulls and their landlords, the Maryland Court of Appeals has revised its decision by keeping the ruling in place as to pure bred pit bulls, but deleting its application to cross breds.   The Court originally held that the owners of pit bull breeds, as well as landlords who permit tenants to own pit bulls, are strictly liable for damages arising from an attack by these dogs.  The decision in Tracy v. Solesky changed the common law, which requires that a plaintiff must prove knowledge on the part of the owner or landlord that the dog was dangerous.  Subsequently, the Court determined that it would hear arguments to reconsider the decision.  Interested groups on both sides of the contovery filed amicus curie briefs with the Court, and the matter was a subject of the recent special session of the Maryland General Assembly, which considered but did not pass legislation on the issue.  The revised ruling means that the common law, requiring proof of knowledge that the dog is dangerous, continues to apply in Maryland to all breeds, including those deemed to be cross-bred pit bulls, but that strict liability applies to pure bred pit bulls.  Look for this issue to again be taken up when the Maryland General Assembly meets in its regular session commencing in January 2013.