Summary of House and Senate Hearings

February 7, 2013

It's been a busy two weeks in Maryland!

      There is still time to write to the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee to support amending SB 160 to adopt strict liability. The choice between SB 160 as it stands today (without this amendment) or letting the bill die is a simple choice: Let the bill die. Remember, if SB 160 passes without the inclusion of strict liability, it could be years or decades before Maryland legislators address the issue of dog liability again.

The House Hearing, January 30, 2013
      Beginning last week with the House hearing on HB 78 ("compromise" bill), we offer a brief summary of events. Delegate Luiz Simmons, who authored the meaningless bill, was forced to explain "rebuttable presumption" over and over again to committee members. He also made at least 3 trips to his presentation chart, which outlined how his legislation would work. There are many comedic moments of Simmons' performance in his attempt to explain the "legal speak" legislation that does little more than codify the One Bite rule into Maryland law.
      True plaintiffs attorneys for dog bite victims from the Maryland Association for Justice (MAJ) testified against HB 78 and called out the "compromise" bill for what it is: "HB 78 bill simply amounts to nothing" and "it won't get to the jury" and "presumption puts the burden on the victim for what every dog owner wants to forget" and the legislation "lacks a meaningful remedy" for victims. Kudos to MAJ attorneys Robert Zarbin and James McAlister for leading the debate against Delegate Simmons' useless "compromise" bill, that offers no advancement for dog bite victims.

The Senate Hearing, February 5, 2013
      Unlike the circus show in the House hearing led by Delegate Simmons, the Senate hearing on Tuesday was quiet and more formal. Typical groups in support of SB 160 (the Senate version of HB 78) spoke first, such as humane groups and housing/landlord organizations. Of course none of the supporters of SB 160 care about dog bite victims or even which bill passes -- rebuttable presumption, strict liability or otherwise -- as long as the bill fully abrogates the Tracey ruling.
      Groups opposing SB 160 spoke next and was led by Dominic Solesky himself now 15-years old, followed by his mother Irene Solesky, his brother Jimmy Solesky, 20-years old (breath taking testimony!), his father Tony Solesky, Colleen Lynn of and attorney Kevin Dunne who successfully represented Dominic and his family. Also opposing SB 160 was trial attorney Bruce Plaxen of the Maryland Association for Justice (Another kudos to MAJ!).

To listen to the Senate hearing, go to this page:

  • See Judicial Proceedings.
  • Click on the last dropdown to find the date, February 5, 2013.
  • Then click the arrow at the right.
  • You will need to download Real Player to listen
The blockbuster Solesky family testimony begins at: 1:26:00 (skip ahead to this point).

New House Hearing, February 7, 2013
      Today, we see a rising division within the House, some members have been cold toward the "compromise" legislation. Delegate Michael Smigiel is sumitting HB 618, a resurrection of the bill put forth during the Special Session last summer that was rejected by the Senate. This rejection left the Tracey ruling intact. HB 618 is a strict liability bill that only applies if the dog attacks while at large. Such a bill is terrible as 60-70% of all dog bites occur on the dog owner's property. If passed, the bill would only apply to 30% of Maryland dog bite victims leaving the rest stuck with the One Bite rule.

Tony Solesky will be testifying today in opposition to HB 618, along with Bruce Plaxen.

That's a Wrap!

Please write to the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee or to all Maryland senators today and support amending SB 160 to adopt strict liability. The choice between SB 160 as it stands today (without this amendment) and letting the bill die is a simple choice: Let the bill die, which also allows the Tracey ruling stand!

Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee,,,,,,,,,,

All Maryland Senators,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Copy the above block(s) of email addresses as is, commas included, and paste into the To: area of your email.

Thank you for your supportive actions!

Visit: Maryland Dog Bite Victim Advocacy