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Foster Swift: Equine Law

Honors & Recognitions

Congratulations, Julie! We're proud to share that Julie Fershtman has received two prestigious awards.

On April 13, 2013, she received the American Youth Horse Council's 2013 "Distinguished Service" Award. As the award itself states, she received it "[i]n recognition of years of dedicated service to the American Youth Horse Council and tireless efforts to touch the lives of youth involved with horses." For more information about the American Youth Horse Council, please visit www.ayhc.com/.

On May 7, 2013, Julie received the 2013 "Industry Award" from the Michigan Equine Partnership for her work over the years supporting legislation to promote and protect the Michigan equine industry. For more information about the Michigan Equine Partnership, please visit www.miequine.com/.

RECENT EQUINE LAW COURTROOM VICTORY

We're pleased to share that Julie just won a case in Michigan where she defended a boarding and training stable that was sued by a visitor who was injured in the barn aisle. Julie cautions that this case might have been avoided altogether if the stable required every visitor to sign its waiver/release of liability. (Julie, interestingly, drafted that stable's release document years ago but the stable only presented it to customers.) Make sure that your release is well-worded and complies with the laws of your state.

Other Articles

"The Seller's Contract Includes an "As Is" Disclaimer – Now What?" - Desert Mirage Magazine, August 2013

"What Mare Owners Should Look for in a Typical Horse-Breeding Contracts." - America's Horse Daily, September 14, 2012

Should Exculpatory Agreements Relieve Liabilities Founded on an Equine Activity Liability Act? American Bar Association - TIPS Animal Law Committee Newsletter, Fall 2012

Win Equine law Books!

We're always on the lookout for good article and update ideas for the Equine Law Blog. Please share yours! We'll give the sender of best tip of the month a free copy of Julie Fershtman's books, EQUINE LAW & HORSE SENSE and MORE EQUINE LAW & HORSE SENSE. Click here to send your ideas. [For more info on these and other publications written by Julie Fershtman, please visit www.equinelaw.net and www.equinelaw.info or call her directly at (248) 785-4731.]

Large Step Forward for the Horse Industry

We applaud the American Horse Council (www.horsecouncil.org) for its national marketing initiative for the horse industry. The AHC joined together ten national associations and large corporate industry stakeholders to make this happen. We await its marketing plan, which will propose ways to help people become more interested in horses and equine activities, either as participants or spectators.

THE NATION'S MOST SOUGHT-AFTER EQUINE LAW SPEAKER

Did you know Julie Fershtman has spoken at the American Horse Council Annual Meeting, Equine Affaire, Midwest Horse Fair, Equitana USA, US Dressage Federation Annual Meeting, North American Riding for the Handicapped (now PATH International) Annual Meeting, American Morgan Horse Association Annual Meeting, American Paint Horse Association Annual Meeting, US Pony Clubs, Inc.'s Annual Meeting, All-American Quarter Horse Congress, American Youth Horse Council Annual Meeting, American Riding Instructors Association Annual Meeting, CHA Annual Meeting, and numerous others? Consider signing her up for your convention. Contact Julie.

Your Boarding Stable’s Liability Insurance Is Not Necessarily Your Horse’s Mortality Insurance

The scenario is unfortunate: A boarded horse becomes seriously injured while at the stable and must be euthanized on recommendation of the veterinarian. The loss might have resulted from a freak accident, such as a broken leg from the horse’s long-time pasture buddy who inflicted a strong kick at the wrong spot.  The demised horse was not insured with equine mortality insurance. Read More ›

Categories: Insurance

The Power of “Open Range” Laws

A small number of states have “open range” districts where land-owners are legally permitted to allow their animals to roam at large, subject to restrictions set by state or local law.

Generally, motorists in open range districts have little or no recourse if they are injured in a collision with loose livestock, but exceptions can exist. In one case from Idaho, the landowner was immune from liability in a wrongful death action when a motorcyclist collided with a loose calf along the roadway in an “open range” district and was killed. The motorcyclist’s estate sued the landowners and the animal’s owners. They argued, in their defense, that they were immune from liability because the incident occurred in an area that was designated as “open range” under Idaho law [Idaho Code § 25-2118]. The trial court agreed and dismissed the case.

The case proceeded to an appeal where the motorcyclist’s estate challenged the “open range” classification. The Idaho Supreme Court upheld dismissal of the case and found that the “the ‘fence out’ rule prevails in Idaho, and that where a herd district has not been established, cattle are customarily permitted to roam." Nationwide, most states do not have “open range” districts. Each state differs. In any vehicle/livestock collision matter, make sure to review the applicable law carefully.

Categories: Liability, Zoning & Land Use

Collecting Past-Due Board Without The Song And Dance

Boarding stable owners sometimes feel pressured by ever-increasing costs of hay, shavings, and feed, while their clients resist rate increases and sometimes fail to pay. What can a stable do? Many stable owners believe that non-paying boarders are a reality of the business, but boarding contracts can help the stable in these situations. For example:

  • The contract can allow the stable the option of raising rates by giving each customer notice of an upcoming raise, such as thirty days or more. The contract can also allow boarders the option of giving the stable notice of termination within that time so that a boarder unhappy with the increase can plan to move out before it takes effect.

Read More ›

Categories: Boarding, Contracts

My Leased Horse Appears Neglected – Now What?

Equine leases can generate several kinds of legal disputes, many of which have been addressed elsewhere in this blog. One dispute involves this scenario: The lessee (a “lessee” is the party that is allowed to use the horse owned by the “lessor” for a certain period of time under certain terms and conditions) is accused of neglecting the leased horse, and the lessor wants the horse returned as a result.

These disputes can be more complicated than they seem. For example, the lessor and lessee might disagree over the central issue of whether the horse was abused or neglected. Also, sometimes, the lessor might demand to have the horse inspected by a veterinarian, but the lessee might refuse to allow this to occur. If the lessor tries to haul away the horse, the lessee might accuse the lessor of trespassing, or even theft. Legal expenses can be significant to resolve these disputes. Read More ›

Categories: Contracts

Equine Law Changes in Connecticut

Equine Law changes afoot in Connecticut! The Connecticut legislature just curbed its Supreme Court in a law that trumps Vendrella v. Astriab (the "vicious and dangerous" case) and determines that domesticated horses are not vicious or dangerous.


Categories: Insurance, Liability

Julie Fershtman Scores Another Equine Law Victory

Julie Fershtman, a shareholder at Foster Swift, secured summary judgment in favor of her client, an equine boarding and riding stable, on April 2, 2014.

The plaintiff accompanied his granddaughter to her riding lesson at a private stable and watched her ride from the observation room. When the lesson ended, he entered the barn aisle to ask the riding instructor questions about saddles. The plaintiff claimed that while standing in the barn aisle, with his back to the aisle, an unknown person led a horse too close behind him that brushed against his back, causing him to lose his balance and fall down. He claimed that he sustained significant injuries as a result. Read More ›

Categories: Boarding, Liability

Equestrian Safety Helmets

Equine activities can deliver a deadly impact to your head if you get kicked or fall. Safety helmets are designed to cushion and re-distribute the force of certain blows to the head. Depending on the impact you sustain, your safety helmet might allow you to walk away unharmed from an accident that would have killed you or required costly long-term care had you not worn a helmet. Read More ›

Categories: Regulatory

Is a Horse Really "Abandoned"?

When a horse facility takes in a horse for care and keeping, but the horse's owner fails to pay boarding fees and is nowhere to be found, is the horse "abandoned"? Surprisingly, many stables simply draw their own conclusions and then take drastic action, such as give away horses, lease them out, use them in lessons, or sell them off. Is that legal? Probably not. Read More ›

Categories: Boarding

Liability Releases and Equine Activity Liability Acts: Utah's Highest Court Addresses How One Affects the Other

Since the equine activity liability acts were enacted, a question has arisen as to whether a person can legally sign away claims under them. According to the majority of courts across the country addressing the issue, the answer is "yes." Read More ›

Categories: Liability

Recent Court Case is a Reminder for Owners of Insured Horses

The importance of complying with an insurance policy’s notice requirements has become especially newsworthy thanks to Julie Fershtman’s courtroom victory last year in an equine insurance coverage lawsuit in an Illinois federal court. In that case, a horse owner sued the company challenging its denial of benefits under an equine insurance policy. Read More ›

Categories: Contracts, Insurance