Attorney expands pit bull case to include individual state officials

A lawsuit challenging both the Maryland Court of Appeals ruling that pit bulls are "inherently dangerous" and a Baltimore landlord's decision to ban the animals from its property to avoid liabilities created under the ruling was recently amended to include the state's governor, attorney general and chief appeals judge as defendants.

Gov. Martin O'Malley, Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler and Chief Judge Robert M. Bell are all being sued personally but within their official capacities, according to the amended complaint, which was filed Sunday night. The Court of Appeals of Maryland has also been added as a defendant.


The lawsuit says they have a duty in their official capacities to ensure laws are faithfully executed and adhere to the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Maryland, and did not fulfill that duty when the appeals court made its ruling.

"We do not seek to place blame, but we are nonetheless after accountability," said Charles H. Edwards, the attorney for the plaintiffs.


Two new plaintiffs have also joined the lawsuit. Like the lead plaintiff, Joseph Weigel, Joanna Profili and Jenine Gangi live in the city's Armistead Gardens neighborhood and own dogs that would be considered pit bulls under the neighborhood's ban. The ban was announced by the low-income housing cooperative's management, Armistead Homes Corp., in an August letter to residents.

Weigel's initial complaint was filed against Armistead Homes and the state of Maryland in federal court in September by Edwards, leading other neighborhood residents with pit bulls to announce their support for the challenge and their refusal to part with their pets.

It claims the court unconstitutionally disregarded his property rights by forcing him to choose between his home and his pet. The federal court is still deciding whether to issue a temporary injunction against Armistead Homes' ban while the case is being adjudicated.

A "Pit Bull Task Force" created by the general assembly is scheduled to convene to discuss the implications of the court ruling Oct. 25.