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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.

Equine Gift? Equine Lease? Stop the Guesswork

For years, we’ve received calls like these:

  • “I ‘free leased’ my horse to a friend, but now she refuses to return my horse.”
  • “A neighbor let me ‘rescue’ her horse because she could no longer take care of him. Now I want to sell him, but my neighbor says I can’t do this.”

In each situation, the parties had no written contract, and nobody was ready or able to undergo an intense and costly legal battle that might follow.

Equine transactions are ripe for a legal dispute when the parties have no written contract and a completely different understanding of the same transaction. Without a contract or agreement explaining the transaction and what the parties’ intended, these types of legal matters can become lawsuits in which the outcome is never predictable. What is a virtual guarantee is that in a court of law the dispute will never be quick, easy, or cheap to litigate.  Read More ›

Categories: Contracts, Lawsuit, Sales/Disputes

Michigan Stable's Release Within Its Boarding Contract Helps Secure Dismissal of Lawsuit

Imagine owning a boarding stable that had a barn fire, causing loss to some of the horses. Imagine later being sued from a disgruntled boarder whose horse perished in the fire. This happened to a Michigan stable, and the stable faced an aggressive legal challenge from the boarder. In the end, the trial court dismissed the case and the Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal in 2014. Why did the stable win? The liability release in its boarding contract played an important part of this result. Read More ›

Categories: Boarding, Contracts, Lawsuit, Liability

What Happens When a Twitter 'Tweet' of a Few Words Becomes a Horse Industry Defamation Lawsuit?

At Foster Swift, we've successfully defended equine-related defamation litigation. Today we're sharing an interesting case from Massachusetts that arose from a "tweet" of only a few words.

The Case

The plaintiff, Feld, owned a Thoroughbred named "Munition." She allegedly sold this horse through a Craigslist ad to a dealer who allegedly promised to place "Munition" with a "loving family" that would allow the plaintiff to visit him. Unfortunately, it was strongly suspected that the dealer instead shipped him to an auction where he may thereafter been slaughtered. Some media reports and Internet chatter followed the story of "Munition's" disappearance.

The defendant, Conway, was a Thoroughbred Bloodstock Agent who became involved in a heated Internet discussion regarding "Munition's" disappearance; she posted on Twitter: “[Plaintiff] -- you are f***ing crazy!” Because of this single "tweet," the plaintiff sued for defamation, claiming that the "tweet" defamed her reputation and attacked her sanity. In response, the defendant asked the Court to dismiss the case on the basis that the "tweet" was not defamatory but instead was mere opinion and hyperbole. The court agreed. Read More ›

Categories: Defamation, Lawsuit, Sales/Disputes

How Not To Respond To an Equine-Related Lawsuit

You just received papers of a lawsuit that was filed against you. The party suing you demands substantial compensation. What do you do next? Knowing the right answer can be tremendously important—it can also save you a substantial amount of money. Taking the wrong action, in the worst case scenario, could potentially result in a sizeable judgment issued against you that cannot be overturned.  Read More ›

Categories: Lawsuit

Liability Insurance Coverage – More Affordable Than You Think

Question: Should a riding instructor with a small clientele forego purchasing a policy of liability insurance merely because her business is small?

Answer: Definitely not. Even the smallest business operator is at risk of litigation if a student is injured. Never assume that your state's equine activity liability act (if you're in one of the 46 states with such a law) will protect you from everything, and never assume that people who sign liability releases won’t sue. Read More ›

Categories: Insurance, Liability

Happy Holidays!

Thank you so much for checking out the Foster Swift Equine Law Blog. We are taking a short break from posting and look forward to providing you the latest news and information in 2015. Happy Holidays!

Categories: News & Events

Children, Horses, and Liability: The Law Might Surprise You

  • A boarder brings her curious and rambunctious 4 year-old son, Henry, to the stable, but he slips away when she enters the tack room, despite her command to stay put, and wanders over to a nearby stall. He opens the stall door, allowing a yearling inside to run loose. The yearling gallops into the road, collides with a car, and motorists are injured. They sue the stable.
  • Before Sarah, 15 years old, takes a riding lesson, the instructor requires her parent to sign a liability release. Minutes later, Sarah falls off during the lesson and is injured. She sues the instructor.

Misunderstandings and myths abound when it comes to liabilities involving children. Make sure to separate fact from fiction.  Read More ›

Categories: Boarding, Insurance, Liability

Nickels Here, Dimes There – Should Your Boarding Stable Impose Side Charges?

For boarding stables, making a profit can be very difficult. Stables face increasing costs each year such as the cost of hay and employment expenses. Raising rates can be especially difficult, but some stable managers have found ways to avoid increasing their standard boarding fees. How do they do it? They require their boarders to pay extra for specific services or amenities. Read More ›

Categories: Boarding, Contracts

Stable Rules: What’s On Your Wall?

Boarding, lesson, and training stables have one thing in common – they all have clients and visitors on the property. For the general safety of the facility, stable managers sometimes develop and post stable rules that everyone should follow

Benefits of Stable Rules

The greatest benefit of stable rules is that they promote safety and cleanliness. Stables have every reason to expect each person who enters the facility to follow them as a condition for being allowed on the property. Read More ›

Categories: Boarding, Contracts

Waivers/Releases of Liability – Not Just For Riders

The scenarios are all too common in the horse industry:

  • The stable’s liability release, by its terms, states only that it applies to "riders" of horses.
  • Stable management only present the stable’s release form to boarding, training, or riding customers – and nobody else.

From a risk management standpoint, these stables could protect themselves better. As our experience tells us, spectators and visitors sometimes get injured on the premises, and when they do, lawsuits can follow. Read More ›

Categories: Liability