Alvarado Pushed Frivolous Legislation

Should landlords be held responsible when their tenant’s (or tenants’) dog bites someone?

That’s a tough call because it would, if common sense comes into play, depend upon several variables and circumstances. Though, it certainly seems like Republican State Senator Ralph Alvarado is wasting time and taxpayer dollars on dog bites instead of dealing with what’s going on in his own backyard.

Because, as we all know, if there’s one thing Kentucky is overwhelmed with? It’s frivolous dog bite lawsuits.

From a Legislative Research Commission press release last week about SB 68:

Senate Bill 68, known as “the dog bite bill,” was introduced by Sen. Ralph Alvarado, R-Winchester. He said it would protect landlords from being held liable when a negligent tenant’s canine bites someone. SB 68 would do this by amending the current statute to modify the definition of persons who would qualify as the owner of a dog.

Alvarado said the legislation was prompted by a 2012 Kentucky Supreme Court opinion that a landlord could be considered a dog owner of his tenant’s dog for the purposes of legal liability. He said that opinion puts unfair pressure on property owners who may not even know that a dog is living on their property.

What kind of negligent landlord/management company do you have to be to not know there’s a dog on the property you own or operate?

This legislation seems frivolous. The kind of frivolous Republicans love to scream about. If a landlord doesn’t allow dogs in their agreement with the tenant, it’s on the tenant for violating their agreement. If a landlord does allow well-behaved dogs, as everyone should (don’t be stupid – it’s 2016), every attorney we’ve spoken with says liability can be handled with simple clauses in a lease. When asked about the 2012 supreme court case, those familiar with it suggested it wouldn’t matter if a property owner wasn’t an absentee slumlord.

And if a landlord doesn’t require rental insurance to cover that sort of thing, they probably deserve to be sued.

It’s almost as if newbie legislator Ralph Alvarado only wants the little people to take personal responsibility – not anyone a notch above middle class. Landlords – people who tend to be keenly aware of liability – have the means to afford protection in the form of strong legalese-filled leases prepared by their attorneys. It’s unfortunately not rare for those folks to be some of the most notoriously negligent people in Kentucky.

Democratic State Senator Robin Webb has it right, along with her five colleagues who opposed the legislation:

“It would totally take the landlord out of any potential recovery, whether they knew, not knew, promoted, or encouraged any activity,” she said. “It would fully insulate the landlord regardless of conduct.”

‘Cause it’s common sense. If you rent out property, you should be involved enough to know what’s going on. Only a slumlord would be so disconnected and unaware.

Wondering what could have such an influence on Alvarado, a physician, to push him to so fervently back this legislation?

Just a taste:

  • Robert Gable – $200 – 2010 – real estate broker (ret)
  • Robert Gable – $1,000 – 2013 – real estate broker (ret)
  • Robert Gable – $1,000 – 2014 – real estate broker (ret)
  • Ralph Ruschell – $100 – 2010 – real estate developer
  • Charles Conley – $375 – 2010 – Pinnacle Management
  • Katherine Davis – $500 – realtor
  • Louisville Apartment PAC – $200 – 2010
  • W.L. Rouse – $1,000 – 2014 – real estate
  • Jim McGinnis – $1,000 – 2015 – property owner

More than $5,000 in contributions that we could track down in less than ten minutes at the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance.

This isn’t meant to overlook Alvarado’s co-sponsors (Chris Girdler, Jared Carpenter, Dan Seum, Mike Wilson) who have also greatly profited from landlords. It’s just a look at Alvarado because he’s a freshman legislator.

Note: Here’s a zip file (155ish K in size) of some of the KREF data we reviewed for safe keeping.

Let The Budget Freakout Fun Begin!

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