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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.

Showing 173 posts by Julie I. Fershtman.

California Appellate Court Dismisses Wrongful Death Lawsuit After Farrier Dies While Shoeing Horse

A California farrier (horseshoer) with 45 years of experience was hired to trim a horse’s hooves. While working in an outdoor corral, the horse knocked him down, and his head hit a rock. He died from his injuries, and his estate sued the horse owner who also owned the property. The trial court dismissed the case, and the California Court of Appeals agreed. Read More ›

Categories: Lawsuit, Liability

Liability Release Dismisses Wrongful Death Lawsuit Involving California Teenager

As this blog has reported in the past, courts nationwide have disagreed as to whether parents can legally release away personal injury claims of their minor children.

In a decision issued earlier this year, a California appellate court found that a horse trainer/riding instructor's release of liability, signed by a mother as well as her teenage daughter, was enforceable. Accordingly, the court held that a lawsuit against the trainer (who was also referred to as a "coach") arising from the teenager's death, was properly dismissed.  Read More ›

Categories: Lawsuit, Liability, News & Events

Is a Loose Girth or Cinch “Faulty Tack” Under an Equine Activity Liability Act?

  • You take your friend on a trail ride, but an hour into the ride the saddle slips and your friend falls off. He sues.
  • Two hours into a scenic trail ride, a horse provided by a public riding stable walks up a hill, but the saddle slips and spooks the horse. The guest falls and files a lawsuit.

If any of these incidents occurred in a state with an Equine Activity Liability Act (“EALA”), could the injured rider base his or her lawsuit on the “faulty tack or equipment” exception? *

Over the years, courts have examined the issue of what qualifies as “faulty tack or equipment.” In these two cases, the courts were convinced that a loose cinch or girth does not. Read More ›

Categories: Liability

Can You Release Away An Equine Activity Liability Act Claim?

In April 2015, Julie Fershtman travels across the country for two speaking engagements regarding the Equine Activity Liability Acts (“EALAs”), including the National Conference on Equine Law. A lawyer with hands-on experience involving these laws nationwide, Julie will discuss recurring issues. Forty-six states now have some form of an EALA (except for California, Maryland, Nevada and New York).

One recurring issue is whether an injured person’s claims under an EALA can be released away. The majority view is that waivers/releases can potentially bar EALA claims. Courts in these states (as of 3/2015) have issued rulings to this effect: Read More ›

Categories: Liability, News & Events

What You Didn’t Know About Equine Insurance

You’re about to apply for equine mortality insurance on your new horse. What you might not know is that these policies are unique, and some features of this type of insurance might surprise you. For example: Read More ›

Categories: Insurance

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