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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. He TIL team,please zap this comment too since it was merely marking a scammer and not reflecting on the story. Thanks, happy Monday, keep up the fine work.

  2. You just need my social security number sent to your Gmail account to process then loan, right? Beware scammers indeed.

  3. The appellate court just said doctors can be sued for reporting child abuse. The most dangerous form of child abuse with the highest mortality rate of any form of child abuse (between 6% and 9% according to the below listed studies). Now doctors will be far less likely to report this form of dangerous child abuse in Indiana. If you want to know what this is, google the names Lacey Spears, Julie Conley (and look at what happened when uninformed judges returned that child against medical advice), Hope Ybarra, and Dixie Blanchard. Here is some really good reporting on what this allegation was: http://media.star-telegram.com/Munchausenmoms/ Here are the two research papers: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0145213487900810 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0145213403000309 25% of sibling are dead in that second study. 25%!!! Unbelievable ruling. Chilling. Wrong.

  4. Mr. Levin says that the BMV engaged in misconduct--that the BMV (or, rather, someone in the BMV) knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged fees but did nothing to correct the situation. Such misconduct, whether engaged in by one individual or by a group, is called theft (defined as knowingly or intentionally exerting unauthorized control over the property of another person with the intent to deprive the other person of the property's value or use). Theft is a crime in Indiana (as it still is in most of the civilized world). One wonders, then, why there have been no criminal prosecutions of BMV officials for this theft? Government misconduct doesn't occur in a vacuum. An individual who works for or oversees a government agency is responsible for the misconduct. In this instance, somebody (or somebodies) with the BMV, at some time, knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged. What's more, this person (or these people), even after having the error of their ways pointed out to them, did nothing to fix the problem. Instead, the overcharges continued. Thus, the taxpayers of Indiana are also on the hook for the millions of dollars in attorneys fees (for both sides; the BMV didn't see fit to avail itself of the services of a lawyer employed by the state government) that had to be spent in order to finally convince the BMV that stealing money from Indiana motorists was a bad thing. Given that the BMV official(s) responsible for this crime continued their misconduct, covered it up, and never did anything until the agency reached an agreeable settlement, it seems the statute of limitations for prosecuting these folks has not yet run. I hope our Attorney General is paying attention to this fiasco and is seriously considering prosecution. Indiana, the state that works . . . for thieves.

  5. I'm glad that attorney Carl Hayes, who represented the BMV in this case, is able to say that his client "is pleased to have resolved the issue". Everyone makes mistakes, even bureaucratic behemoths like Indiana's BMV. So to some extent we need to be forgiving of such mistakes. But when those mistakes are going to cost Indiana taxpayers millions of dollars to rectify (because neither plaintiff's counsel nor Mr. Hayes gave freely of their services, and the BMV, being a state-funded agency, relies on taxpayer dollars to pay these attorneys their fees), the agency doesn't have a right to feel "pleased to have resolved the issue". One is left wondering why the BMV feels so pleased with this resolution? The magnitude of the agency's overcharges might suggest to some that, perhaps, these errors were more than mere oversight. Could this be why the agency is so "pleased" with this resolution? Will Indiana motorists ever be assured that the culture of incompetence (if not worse) that the BMV seems to have fostered is no longer the status quo? Or will even more "overcharges" and lawsuits result? It's fairly obvious who is really "pleased to have resolved the issue", and it's not Indiana's taxpayers who are on the hook for the legal fees generated in these cases.

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