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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 95 posts in Liability.

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

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

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

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

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

Legal Aspects of the Trial Period: Three Foreseeable Problems and Ways to Avoid Them

"Try out my horse for few weeks.  See if you get along with him." 

These were the words of a sincere, well-intentioned seller who only wanted a satisfied buyer.  Could anything possibly go wrong with this trial period arrangement?   Let’s explore three possible problems and ways to avoid them. Read More ›

Categories: Insurance, Liability, Sales/Disputes

Legal Aspects of an Exercise Rider Business

In an effort to spend time with horses, while also raising cash, some people in the horse industry develop small businesses. We have received calls from people interested in establishing an exercise riding business where they visit people’s stables, saddle up designated horses, and work the horses on tracks, trails, arenas, or fields. In many instances, exercise riders work alone and must groom and saddle each horse. Very often, the exercise rider receives little information about the horses they’re asked to work. If you are considering an exercise riding business, here are a few suggestions: Read More ›

Categories: Contracts, Insurance, Liability