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Owners of spooked horse entitled to summary judgment in negligence suit

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The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that the owners of a horse that trampled a man after getting loose at the Marshall County 4-H Fairgrounds didn’t have reason to know the horse had any dangerous propensities prior to the accident. The court affirmed summary judgment in a negligence lawsuit on the issue.

John Einhorn, president of the 4-H Marshall County Horse & Pony Advisory Committee, was injured after he was trampled by Clu, a horse owned by Scott and Gretchen Johnson. Their daughter was riding Clu in the practice arena at the fairgrounds when he was spooked and bucked several times, throwing her off. When trying to calm the horse down, he took off. Einhorn saw Clu on the run and ended up in the horse’s path. Einhorn sustained severe injuries.

Einhorn received nearly $80,000 in medical benefits from Purdue University’s workers’ compensation carrier; he was working as an unpaid volunteer at the fair. He and his wife sued the Johnsons, Purdue University and the county 4-H Fair Association, alleging negligence. Purdue and the fair association are equine activity sponsors under Indiana law.

The trial court granted Purdue’s motion to dismiss and summary judgment motions filed by the defendants. In John Einhorn and Roxanne Einhorn v. Scott Johnson, Gretchen Johnson, Purdue University Board of Trustees, et al., 50A03-1303-CT-93, the Court of Appeals agreed with the Einhorns that John Einhorn was not Purdue’s employee, so he is not precluded from bringing the civil action against the university. He is not bound by the exclusivity provision of the Worker’s Compensation Act because he accepted medical payments from the school’s workers’ compensation carrier, Judge Edward Najam wrote.

But the judges agreed with the trial court that Purdue and the 4-H Fair Association are immune from liability under the Equine Activity Statute as a matter of law. The designated evidence shows Einhorn’s injuries stemmed from an inherent risk of equine activities. The judges also affirmed summary judgment for the Johnsons. Clu’s bucking under the circumstances isn’t evidence of a dangerous propensity as a matter of law and there’s no evidence he had ever shown a tendency to buck prior to the incident, so the Einhorns can’t show that the Johnsons breached a duty of care.

 

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  1. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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