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Miller: Expect a vigorous debate

When the Senate bill that would establish liability in cases of death or injury related to dog bites is finally debated on the Senate floor, there’s one thing you can expect, according to Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller.

“I think there’s going to be a vigorous debate and there’s going to be a substantial number of senators who are going to vote for strict liability,” Miller said. “In other words, if your dog bites somebody, you’re responsible. That’s the way it is in the majority of other states.”

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller

Miller, speaking briefly with reporters Monday, said he’s tired of “this who struck John business about presumptions and this and that.”

The Senate is expected to bring the bill sponsored by Sen. Brian E. Frosh out of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee as early as Tuesday . If that happens, the bill will likely be held  until Wednesday so legislators can prepare amendments.

Frosh’s bill creates a legal standard where an injury or death caused by a dog bite creates a rebuttable presumption that the owner knew or should have known that the dog had dangerous or vicious propensities.

But some in the Senate are not pleased with that bill and believe Frosh is caving to pressure from Del. Luiz R.S. Simmons and the House of Delegates. Some senators want a bill that establishes a stricter standard of liability that provides some exceptions for dog owners certain instances such as where the victim provokes the dog to bite.

“Look, if you have a dog, I have dogs, I love my dogs, but if my dog is going to bite somebody, I’m responsible,” Miller said.

But Frosh said he believes that the stricter liability  standard will not pass in the House.

“We’ll hear all that on the floor of the Senate and we’ll see what happens,” Miller said