Appeals court puts Indiana Grand horseman’s negligence case out to pasture

A horseman who claims he was injured after another rider’s horse got loose during training exercises at Indiana Grand Racing & Casino didn’t win, place or show Friday at the Indiana Court of Appeals.

The Shelby Superior Court had already granted summary judgment in favor of Indiana Grand defendants and partial summary judgment to Michael and Penny Lauer and Michael E. Lauer Racing Stables, Inc., the owners of a racehorse known as Accessorizing. The Lauers were giving Marcelle Martins a trial as Accessorizing’s exercise rider when the horse ran out of her control and collided with Glitter Cat, who was owned and trained by Civilo Cruz.

Cruz was thrown to the ground and injured, and a couple of months later, he filed the instant suit, Civilo Cruz v. New Centaur, LLC, Centaur Acquisition, LLC d/b/a Indiana Grand Racing & Casino, Michael E. Lauer, Michael E. Lauer Racing Stables, Inc., Penny Lauer, and Marcelle Martins, 19A-CT-3003. 

Cruz alleged premises liability and negligence against Indiana Grand and respondeat superior and negligent hiring claims against the Lauers.

In an analysis that focused on caselaw dealing with the inherent risks of participating in sporting activities, the COA affirmed the grant of summary judgment against the Indiana Grand defendants. It further remanded for full entry of summary judgment for the Lauers. Judge Patricia Riley wrote for the panel that agreed with the Lauers’ argument that Martins was an independent contractor, and not an employee as Cruz alleged.

“(W)e conclude that no genuine issue of material fact precluded entry of summary judgment in favor of Indiana Grand and the Lauers on Cruz’s negligence claims,” Riley wrote for the court.

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