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Articles Posted in Dog Bites

When a dog causes bodily injury to another person, the owner of the dog may be held liable for damages in some situations.  In a June 9, 2021 Maryland personal injury case, the Court of Appeals considered whether, and under what circumstances, a non-owner may be held liable for injuries caused by a dog in their care.

The plaintiff in the case was sitting on her patio when a dog ran into her apartment through an open window, chasing her cat.  The plaintiff found the dog in the back bedroom of her apartment, where it had cornered the cat behind a cabinet.  As the plaintiff restrained the seventy-to-eighty pound dog by its collar, she injured her neck and left arm.  The plaintiff filed a negligence suit against the defendants for her injuries.

The defendants in the case were the plaintiff’s neighbor and his girlfriend.  The girlfriend, who worked and resided in New Jersey, would visit the neighbor nearly every weekend.  The neighbor testified that “we” adopted the dog in Maryland two years prior to the incident, and both defendants were listed on the dog’s veterinary records.  Although the dog primarily stayed with the girlfriend, she always brought the dog when visiting the neighbor, who had set up a tethered area for the dog in his yard.

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Dog bites or attacks can cause serious injuries.  In many instances, the victim may have recourse against a negligent pet owner.  In an October 16, 2019 case, the Court of Special Appeals reviewed a Maryland personal injury negligence claim brought by a plaintiff who suffered injuries as a result of a dog attack.  When her claims were dismissed by the circuit court on summary judgment, she brought an appeal.

The plaintiff in the case was reportedly attacked right outside of her home by a pit bull.  The dog was owned by the son of one of the tenants in a nearby housing complex.  The dog owner did not reside in the housing complex, but frequently stayed with his mother for varying periods of time.  Although the housing complex prohibited dogs on the property without written consent, the tenant allowed her son to bring dogs with him when he visited her.  Following the dog attack, the plaintiff filed a negligence suit against the owner of the housing development.

In Maryland, to hold a landlord responsible for injuries sustained from an attack by a dog owned by a tenant, the plaintiff has the burden to prove that the landlord: (1) had control over the dog’s presence at the property; (2) was aware of the presence of the dog at the property; and (3) was aware that the dog had vicious propensities.

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With the invention of the Internet andhand held access through cell phones and PDAs, jurors are taking itupon themselves to investigate court cases on their own. Jurors areunder strict instruction to solely consider evidence presented in thecourtroom. Circuit Judge John C. Themelis of Baltimore, Marylandrecounts that a fellow judge declared a mistrial in a case where ajuror used the Internet to research a defendant’s criminal record. Local attorneys have heard stories that jurors have Googled their firm information through iPhones and other hand held devices.

When selected for a jury of any civilor criminal jury trial, the judge reads a set of instructions andclearly states, Continue Reading ›

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