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New York is 48th State to Enact an Equine Liability Law

On October 23, 2017, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law that state’s version of an equine activity liability law. Here is a link. The law took immediate effect.

Whom the Law Affects

New York’s law applies to “operators” of “Agricultural Tourism” activities. It applies to “equine activities both outdoors and indoors” and includes a definition of “equine therapy” to include “equine activities for children or adults with physical or mental disabilities, post-traumatic stress disorder or other condition for which equine therapy is sought for therapeutic purposes or treatment.” 

Conditional Liability Limitations

This law makes immunities conditional upon compliance with responsibilities as the law describes for “operators” and “visitors.”  The liability limitation section states:

Owners and operators of agricultural tourism areas shall not be liable for an injury to or death of a visitor if the provisions of this subdivision are complied with.

Section 18-303(1)(F); emphasis added.

Responsibilities of “Operators”

Section 18-303(1) provides that “operators” of “agricultural tourism areas” “shall” have these responsibilities:

  • “To post and maintain way finding signage to delineate the paths, areas and buildings that are open to the public” [Section 18-303(1)(A)] ;
  • “To adequately train employees who are actively involved in agricultural tourism activities” [Section 18-303(1)(B)];
  • “To post at every point of sale or distribution of tickets, whether on or off the premises of the agricultural tourism area, a conspicuous ‘warning to visitors’ relative to the inherent risks of participating in activities on working farms and to provide written information having such text and graphics as the commissioner of agriculture and markets shall specify, which shall conspicuously direct the attention of all visitors to the required ‘warning to visitors’” [Section 18-303(1)(C)];
  • “To post at every point of sale or distribution of tickets at an agricultural tourism area a conspicuous notice to visitors that pursuant to this article such visitors have a responsibility to exercise reasonable care regarding the disclosed risks of the agricultural activity, and reasonably comply with posted way finding signs, reasonably remain in areas designated for the agricultural tourism activity, reasonably follow any and all written and conspicuously posted rules of conduct provided by such operator to visitors or verbal or other communication for persons with disabilities, and not to willfully remove, deface, alter or otherwise damage signage, warning devices or implements, or other safety devices” [Section 18-303(1)(D) ];
  • “To take reasonable care to prevent reasonably foreseeable risks to visitors, consistent with the responsibility of a landowner to keep his or her premises reasonably safe for intended and reasonably foreseeable uses and users, and to post conspicuous notice to visitors of the right to a refund to the purchaser in the amount paid in the initial sale of any tickets returned to the operator of the agricultural tourism area, intact and unused, upon declaration by such purchaser that he or she believes that he or she is unprepared or that he or she is unwilling to participate in the agricultural tourism activity due to the risks inherent in the activities or the duties imposed upon him or her by this section” [Section 18-303(1)(E)].

Responsibilities of Visitors

Section (2) of the law states that visitors to “agricultural tourism areas” have certain responsibilities, which are:

  • “To exercise reasonable care regarding the disclosed risks of the agricultural activity” [Section 18-303(2)];
  • “To reasonably comply with posted way finding signs and reasonably remain in areas designated for the agricultural tourism activity” [Section 18-303(2)(A)];
  • “To reasonably follow any and all written information or conspicuously posted rules of conduct provided by such operator to visitors, or verbal or other form of communication of rules of conduct where needed for effective communication for people with disabilities” [Section 18-303(2)(B)]; and
  • “Not to willfully remove, deface, alter or otherwise damage signage, warning devices or implements or other safety devices” [Section 18-303(2)(C)].

More Information

New York’s law is very different from the 47 other state equine activity liability laws. It combines equine activities with numerous other activities (such as “U-pick” farms, farm tours, winery tours, and others) and, as enacted, offers little direction regarding compliance, and no required language for signs.  For more information on how the law may impact you, discuss the law with a knowledgeable lawyer or contact the New York State Horse Council, which supported the legislation.

This blog post does not constitute legal advice. When questions arise based on specific situations, direct them to a knowledgeable attorney.

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is considered to be one of the nation's leading attorneys in the field of equine law. A frequent author and speaker on legal issues, she has written over 400 published articles, three books, and has lectured at seminars, conventions, and conferences in 29 states on issues involving law, liability, risk management, and insurance. For more information, please also visit www.fershtmanlaw.com and www.equinelaw.net, and www.equinelaw.info.

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Our Equine law blog (and its author) in the news!

Julie Fershtman, author of our popular and prolific Equine Law Blog, was interviewed this week by the State Bar of Michigan. The interview, which called Fershtman "Lawyer-Blogger," discussed our Equine Law Blog. We truly believe that this blog is the nation's most active blog serving the equine industry on equine law topics, and we thank you for visiting it. Read more here.

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.

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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.

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