ILNews

COA addresses equine statute for first time

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Ruling on the state’s Equine Activity Statute for the first time, the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed the statute barred a woman’s claim for injuries during a horse competition.

Teresa Perry, an adult member of the Whitely County 4-H Clubs’ Equine Advisory Board, helped select the horses that were shown at a competition in the Show Barn. Horses weren’t allowed in the Show Barn except for this competition; they generally were in the Horse Barn, which is wider than the Show Barn.

When trying to help a child turn a horse around who was agitated, Perry was kicked in the knee and injured.

She sued because she believed the 4-H Club was negligent in holding the competition in the smaller Show Barn because the horses were closer together and since the horses aren’t used to the barn, they were more likely to get spooked.

The trial court granted summary judgment for the club based in part on the Equine Activity Statute, which provides that an equine activity sponsor is granted immunity under the statute if certain conditions are met. One of those conditions is that a sign must be posted warning that the grounds or building is the site of equine activity.

The 4-H Club had these signs on all entrances to the Horse Barn and Perry acknowledged that she had seen the signs. The club introduced photographic evidence of the signs and established a prima facie case it maintained the proper signs. Perry failed to come forward with evidence the signs were deficient, the appellate court ruled in Teresa Perry v. Whitley County 4-H Clubs Inc., No. 92A03-1002-CT-101.

The appellate court also had to determine whether Perry’s injury resulted from an inherent risk of equine activities. There are several exceptions listed to the immunity spelled out in the statute, such as faulty equipment, but none of those applied in this case. The judges looked to other jurisdictions to determine whether and to what extent an equine activity sponsor may be liable for simple negligence alleged to have caused injury to a participant.

Indiana’s statute is silent on the place of sponsor negligence in the overall scheme of equine liability, noted Judge Margret Robb. But the judges concluded the General Assembly didn’t intend for the statute to abrogate the cause of action for common-law negligence of an activity sponsor.

“…if none of the Section 2(b) exceptions apply, then an equine activity sponsor is not liable for failing to use reasonable care to mitigate an already inherent risk of equine activities that ultimately resulted in a participant’s injury,” she wrote.

Perry’s injury falls under the statutory definition of inherent risks of equine activities.
 

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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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