Maryland

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Titlesort descending Summary
Anne Arundel County v. Reeves This Maryland case examines the scope of compensatory damages available forf the tortious injury or death of a pet under Md. Code Cts. & Jud. Proc. (“CJP”) § 11-110, a law that allow pet owner to recover damages for the tort-based death or injury of their pet up to a capped level. The incident giving rise to this case occurred when Anne Arundel County Police Officer Rodney Price shot Micheal Reeves' dog in the front yard of Mr. Reeves' home. Officer Price was going door-to-door inquiring with residents after a recent spate of burglaries. Mr. Reeves' dog Vern burst from the front storm door and put his paw on the officer's forearm. While Officer Price stepped back and pushed the dog away, he testified that he did not vocalize any commands to the dog at that time, and, instead, decided to shoot the dog. Testimony by a veterinary pathologist at trial revealed that, if the dog were going for the officer's face as Price testified, this would have been improbable based on the dog's size as compared to the officer. Further, there was no dirt on that area of the officer's arm/chest nor any marks from the dog's paws. After a jury trial, a verdict was returned in favor of Mr. Reeves for $10,000 for the trespass to chattel claim, and $500,000 in economic damages and $750,000 in noneconomic damages for the gross negligence claim. The circuit court then reduced the gross negligence damages to $200,000 pursuant to the Local Government Tort Claims Act (“LGTCA”). CJP § 5-301 et seq. The circuit court also reduced the trespass to chattel damages to $7,500 pursuant to the then-applicable damages cap in CJP § 11-110.1. The Court of Special Appeals held in an unreported divided decision that the statute did not bar recovery of noneconomic damages. On appeal here, this court now holds that CJP § 11-110 limits the recovery for compensatory damages to the amount specified by that statute and does not allow for recovery of noneconomic compensatory damages. And while the court found there was legally sufficient evidence to support the jury's finding that Officer Price was grossly negligent, it also held that Mr. Reeves could not recover these damages due to Maryland's single recovery rule. As a matter of first impression, this court found CJP § 11-110's plain language evinces an intent to exclude those things not expressed in the statute. In other words, because the legislature defined the specific types of compensatory damages it allows, it intended to exclude other forms of damages like noneconomic damages. Further, the court found the plaintiff's reading of the statute "illogical" because economic damages would be capped, but yet noneconomic damages would not be. Thus, it would be up to the General Assembly to expressly provide for noneconomic damages in amendments to the statute. The court ultimately concluded that the statute defines and caps the recovery of compensatory damages in the case of the tortious death or injury of a pet and the judgment of the Court of Special Appeals was affirmed in part and reversed in part. The dissent noted the majority decision created a "double anomaly" in Maryland law by capping damages for victims of a tortfeasor who kills their dog but allowing a fraudster who intentionally tricks a family into selling a painting of their dog unlimited damages. Further, the dissent argued the majority ignored both judicial and ethical trends regarding pets in society and disregards the legislative debate when the statute was re-enacted showing an intent to include higher damages amounts.
Assal v. Barwick (Kidwell)
Brooks v. Jenkins County deputies went to a home with a warrant to arrest a couple's son. While many facts in this case were in dispute, the undisputed result was that a deputy shot the family's chocolate Labrador retriever. While the couple left the house to take the dog to the vet, the deputies entered the house—contrary to the couple's express instructions— and arrested the son. The couple filed a complaint in the Circuit Court seeking damages, on a number of theories, for the wounding of the dog and the officers' alleged unlawful entry into their home. After a trial, the couple prevailed against the deputies and the jury awarded damages totaling $620,000 (reduced, after remittitur, to $607,500). The deputies appeal. The Maryland Court of Special Appeals held the issue of whether deputy acted with gross negligence in shooting dog was for the jury; CJ § 11–110 did not limit the couple's total recovery for the constitutional tort to the capped value of their pet's vet bills; the $200,000 jury award in non-economic damages to the couple on their constitutional tort claim was not excessive in light of the evidence; the deputies were entitled to immunity from the constitutional trespass claim; and the couple could not recover emotional damages on the common law trespass claim. The lower court's decision was therefore affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.
Coroneos v. Montgomery County


Pursuant to a warrant, the police seized all un-cared for animals owned by a reptile distributor.   The distributor was told he could appeal the seizure, but must prepay the costs of boarding and caring for the animals pending the appeal.  The trial court granted summary judgment in favor fo the county and the Court of Special Appeals reversed, holding the owner was not required by the county code to prepay the costs of care as a condition for an appeal.         

Detailed Discussion of Maryland Great Ape Laws The following article discusses Maryland Great Ape law. Maryland regulates possession of Great Apes both expressly via state law as well as indirectly via reference to federal law. At the state level, it bans the importation, sale and transfer of dangerous animals through its anti-cruelty law. (MD CRIM LAW § 10-621) Maryland does not define the term “dangerous animal,” but section (b) lists all non-human primates as one of eight categories of animal that “[a] person may not import into the State, offer for sale, trade, barter, possess, breed, or exchange….” Although Maryland does have several laws that either reference Great Apes specifically or reference federal laws meant to protect Great Apes, many exceptions have been carved out of these protections. As such, Maryland's laws regulating possession and usage of Great Apes is mediocre compared to other states at best.
Hurd v. State


 In this Maryland case, Defendant appealed his convictions for two counts of aggravated cruelty to animals and two counts of malicious destruction of property valued under $500 relating to the fatal shooting of two of his neighbor's (Randolph's) dogs. On appeal, Defendant maintains the language of the former text of 10-416(b)(3), a section of the Natural Resources Code dealing with deer hunting, renders the shooting justifiable. The Court found that Section 10-416(b)(3) is ambiguous; as such, based on the rule of lenity, the Court construed section 10-416(b)(3), with one exception, as giving persons in Washington County (prior to the 2009 amendment) a right to kill a dog pursing a deer whether or not the dog was being used for purposes of deer hunting. However, the Court found that Section 10-416 of the Natural Resources Article gave Defendant no privilege to kill a dog pursuing a turkey.

Maryland General Laws Supplement 1890-1898: Cruelty to Animals The Maryland General Laws supplement covers the additions to the Cruelty of Animals statutes for Maryland from 1890-1898. The amendments cover court procedure to implementation of specific laws for certain animals.
MD - Animal Shelters - Subtitle 17. Animal Shelters This chapter effective October 1, 2016 states that the intent is to enhance animal shelter services by promoting humane animal sheltering policies and strengthening community safety. Before January 1, 2017, an animal shelter shall establish a written veterinary care protocol for dogs and cats that is consistent with guidelines set forth in the most recent Association of Shelter Veterinarians' Guidelines for Standards of Care in Animal Shelters. That same date, an animal shelter must post on the animal shelter's Web site or in a conspicuous location within the animal shelter's facility a written protocol for reclaiming animals from the animal shelter that includes the minimum holding period for stray animals, the hours of operation, the fees for reclaiming an animal, and the documentation/identification required for reclaiming. Violation of this subtitle results in a civil penalty of $500.
MD - Assistance Animal - Assistance Animal/Guide Dog Laws


The following statutes comprise Maryland's relevant assistance animal/guide dog laws.

MD - Bite - Maryland Dangerous Dog Laws This Maryland statute outlines what is a "Dangerous dog." As defined by statute, it is a dog that, without provocation, has killed or inflicted severe injury on a person, or it is a potentially dangerous dog that bites a person, when not on its owner's real property, kills or inflicts severe injury on a domestic animal, or attacks without provocation. An owner of a dangerous dog must keep the dog securely enclosed on his or her property or must muzzle and restrain the dog. A person who violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction is subject to a fine not exceeding $2,500.

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