Maryland pitbull lawsuit widens

Oct. 17, 2012 at 3:03 PM

BALTIMORE, Oct. 17 (UPI) -- Maryland's governor, attorney general and top judge were added to a lawsuit over whether a landlord has the right to ban tenants from keeping pitbulls as pets.

The attorney for a group of residents in a low income neighborhood in Baltimore, Armistead Gardens, said Gov. Martin O'Malley, state Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler and Maryland Court of Appeals Chief Judge Robert M. Bell have an obligation to ensure laws and the Constitution are faithfully upheld. They are not being sued personally, but as occupants of their respective offices, The Baltimore Sun reported.

The row began when the owners of the housing development sent a letter to tenants in August informing them they consider pitbulls too much of a safety risk, and due to liability concerns residents who own the dogs would either have to move or get rid of their pets.

Lead plaintiff Joseph Weigel sued his landlord, Armistead Homes Corp., saying his constitutional rights had been violated when he was forced to choose between his home and his pet. An appeals court judge ruled in favor of Armistead.

The lawsuit named the three high profile defendants after that loss, saying each man failed to uphold the law in allowing the ruling to go forward, The Sun reported.

A state task force has been created to address fallout from the lawsuit and is expected to meet later this month.

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