Your State Enacted or Amended its Equine Activity Liability Act – Are the Changes Retroactive?
When an equine activity liability statute is amended, are the amendments retroactive to the date when the law was initially passed? Or, do the amendments take effect going forward?
If an equine-related accident occurs before an equine activity liability act becomes the law, can the court apply the (after-enacted) law?
Courts around the country have examined these issues. This article addresses two cases.
Equine Statute Amended - Michigan Case
In a 2016 Michigan case, the plaintiff, a minor, took part in a trail ride while attending a horseback riding camp at the defendant’s horse ranch. During the ride, the plaintiff’s assigned horse spooked and ran off. The plaintiff fell from the horse and was injured. After this incident occurred, Michigan’s Equine Activity Liability Act was amended to remove its “negligence” exception for “equine professionals.” The amendment stated that the “equine professional’s” act or omission must constitute "a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of the participant" as well as be a proximate cause of the injury, death or damage. The trial court granted the defendant ranch's motion to dismiss the case, but the plaintiff appealed.
Among the issues before the appellate court on appeal was whether the amended law could be applied retroactively to benefit the defendant equine professional. It could not, the Court noted, because the amendments took effect after the accident had already occurred.
Equine Statute Newly Enacted – Florida Case
In a 1997 Florida case, the defendant stable assigned the plaintiff, a 14 year-old summer camper, a horse for a trail ride. The horse allegedly went out of control and collided with a tree, causing the plaintiff to sustain injuries. On the strength of Florida’s Equine Activity Liability Act, the trial court dismissed the case, but the appellate court reversed. In doing so, it found that the statute had not taken effect at the time of the accident and was wrongly applied retroactively.
This blog post does not constitute legal advice. Courts can evaluate laws and cases differently. When questions arise based on specific situations, direct them to a knowledgeable attorney.
Julie Fershtman 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.View All Posts by Author ›
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Julie Fershtman, author of our popular and prolific Equine Law Blog, was interviewed 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.
Julie Fershtman’s Recent and Upcoming Equine Law Speaking Engagements Include:
National Conference on Equine Law in Louisville, Kentucky on April 29, 2020. Topic will be on Waivers/Releases of Liability Involving Minor Participants.
U.S. Hunter Jumper Association (USHJA) Annual Convention in Denver, Colorado on December 10, 2019. Topic will be on Equine Liability.
IRMI Emmett J. Vaughan Agribusiness Conference (“AgriCon”) in Sacramento, CA (April 2019), and Richmond, VA (June 2019) and in Des Moines, IA (September 2019), on topics of “Equine Activity Liability Acts” and “Equine Mortality Insurance Disputes.”
National Conference on Equine Law in May 2019 in Lexington, KY, on the topic of “Equine Activity Liability Act Updates” and liabilities involving hosting of equine clinics.
Agricultural Claims Conference in Kansas City, MO, in March 2019 on topics of “Loose Livestock Liabilities.”
2018 American Bar Association Annual Meeting in Chicago, IL, on “Equine Mortality Coverage and Disputes.”
November 2018, American Horse Council webinar on “Equine Liability.”
Honors & Recognitions
Equine lawyer, Julie Fershtman, has received these prestigious equine industry awards from respected equine organizations:
"Excellence in the Advancement of Animal Law Award" - American Bar Association Tort Trial & Insurance Law Section Animal Law Committee
"Distinguished Service Award" - American Youth Horse Council
"Industry Service Award" - Michigan Equine Partnership
"Catalyst Award"- Michigan Horse Council
"Outstanding Achievement Award" - American Riding Instructors Association
"Partner in Safety Award" - American Riding Instructors Association
"Associate Service Award" - United Professional Horseman's Association
"National Partnership in Safety" Award" - Certified Horsemanship Association
What our Equine Law Services can Provide
Handling breach of contract, fraud/ misrepresentation, commercial code, and other claims involving equine-related transactions including purchases/sales, leases, mare leases/foal transfers, and partnerships.
Litigating disputes in court or through alternative dispute resolution (arbitration, mediation, facilitation).
Defending equine/farm/equestrian industry professionals, businesses, and associations in personal injury claims and lawsuits.
Drafting and negotiating contracts for boarding, training, sales, waivers/releases, leases, and numerous other equine-related transactions.
Representing and advising insurers on coverage and policy language as well as litigation;
Advising equine industry clubs and associations regarding management, rules, bylaws, disputes, and regulations.
Representing some of the equine industry's top trainers, competitors, stables, and associations.
Counseling industry professionals, stable managers, and individual horse owners.
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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