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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. Indiana's seatbelt law is not punishable as a crime. It is an infraction. Apparently some of our Circuit judges have deemed settled law inapplicable if it fails to fit their litmus test of political correctness. Extrapolating to redefine terms of behavior in a violation of immigration law to the entire body of criminal law leaves a smorgasbord of opportunity for judicial mischief.

  2. I wonder if $10 diversions for failure to wear seat belts are considered moral turpitude in federal immigration law like they are under Indiana law? Anyone know?

  3. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

  4. Justice has finally been served. So glad that Dr. Ley can finally sleep peacefully at night knowing the truth has finally come to the surface.

  5. While this right is guaranteed by our Constitution, it has in recent years been hampered by insurance companies, i.e.; the practice of the plaintiff's own insurance company intervening in an action and filing a lien against any proceeds paid to their insured. In essence, causing an additional financial hurdle for a plaintiff to overcome at trial in terms of overall award. In a very real sense an injured party in exercise of their right to trial by jury may be the only party in a cause that would end up with zero compensation.

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