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. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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