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View Full Version : What do you think will happen if case against Nunnick goes forward?



chestnutwithchrome
Jan. 22, 2011, 11:45 PM
I don't know if many people saw this news article about how a judge is allowing the case to proceed against trainer Kristi Nunnick. This is a dangerous thing as I understand it, because if it holds up, it would create precedence that would hurt trainers everywhere in what they are liable for. I personally believe the rider in question was an adult, and therefore the person who should have known her horse, and pulled up if she felt unsafe. In addition she ignored previous jump judges attempts to stop her. Anywho, I just thought it surprising that nobody was talking about it, and figured most people didn't notice it.

Judge Rules Erikssons' Case Against Nunnink Can Proceed
By: John Strassburger
Print ShareA California appellate judge ruled on Jan. 10 that the case brought by the parents of event rider Mia Eriksson against her former trainer can go to trial. Justice Jeffrey King ruled against trainer Kristi Nunnink’s request for summary judgment in the parents’ claim of negligence.

Mia Eriksson, then 17, died at the Galway Downs International Three-Day Event (Calif.) in November 2006, after her horse, Koryogrophy, fell at a water jump and landed on her. She died hours later in the hospital. Prior to the fall, Eriksson did not heed course officials attempting to stop her, as she’d already exceeded the maximum number of refusals allowed on course.

Parents Stan and Karan Eriksson, of Tahoe City, Calif., had previously brought cases against the U.S. Equestrian Federation, the U.S. Eventing Association and event officials, but those cases have been dismissed. This case charges Nunnink, of Auburn, Calif., with negligence as Eriksson’s trainer, insisting that Eriksson’s horse had fallen in two previous events and that Nunnink should have known if the horse was fit and healthy for this event. Eriksson’s parents had reportedly signed a standard release of liability statement.

A judge in Riverside County, Calif., the county in which the event is held, had previously ruled in Nunnink’s favor, writing, “There was no showing of competent evidence fulfilling the requisite elements of duty, breach of duty, and legal causation on the part of [Nunnink], legally causing the subject incident…, and the action is barred by the primary assumption of the risk doctrine.”

But King disagreed, writing a decision that could be significant to all trainers regarding their responsibility to students and their horses. He ruled that a coach has a duty of ordinary care not to increase the risk of injury to a student by encouraging or allowing the student to compete when he or she is physically unfit.

In her statement to the court, Nunnink said that “[a]t no time before Mia Eriksson began her cross-country course run did anyone, including Mia Eriksson, ever complain that her horse was not behaving characteristically or in a manner that would suggest that ‘Kory’ would present a danger to Mia Eriksson.”

King reasoned this did not establish the horse’s fitness to compete.

“The distinction between ‘no one complained to her,’ and ‘I did not know nor should I have reasonably known,’ is significant,” King wrote. He added that the Erikssons “could very well admit that no one complained to Nunnink about the fitness of the horse, yet Nunnink, based on her own expertise, could still have known or had reason to know that the horse was unfit.”

Nunnink said that Koryography had not fallen twice prior to Galway Downs. She said he had “kind of a freak, little fall” at Ram Tap (Calif.) in his previous start and that she didn’t know of any other fall.

Nunnink pointed out that the Erikssons owned and operated a 40-stall professional training center in Tahoe City, where they trained Koryography. Nunnink traveled twice a week to Tahoe City to give lessons to Eriksson and other students; the horse was not in her barn or under her direct supervision. Nunnink said that she had suggested to Mia that she contest the CCI* instead of the CCI** to be sure of her own and her horse’s confidence after Ram Tap, but Mia declined.

“And now Mia’s gone, and this [lawsuit] isn’t going to bring her back,” said Nunnink. “The one good thing that came from this is that everybody tripled their efforts to be able to pull up riders on course if they’re having problems. But, ultimately, it was up to Mia [to stop], and there was nothing I could do once she was on course.”

Mia Eriksson’s older sister, Shana, 18, died of head injuries after being thrown from her own horse while she was trail riding with teammates at Fresno State University (Calif.) in September 2003. The Erikssons filed a $10 million suit against the college for negligence and were ruled against in September 2007.

Janet
Jan. 22, 2011, 11:51 PM
There is already an extensive thread on this.

http://www.chronofhorse.com/forum/showthread.php?t=288389

chestnutwithchrome
Jan. 22, 2011, 11:55 PM
where? I searched for Kristi Nunnick, and nothing came up. Maybe I missed it. If you could post the link I would appreciate it. I will go searching again as well.

Janet
Jan. 22, 2011, 11:56 PM
I just added it to my post.

JER
Jan. 23, 2011, 12:51 AM
where? I searched for Kristi Nunnick, and nothing came up. Maybe I missed it.

You misspelled it. The name is Kristi Nunnink.

But Janet kindly posted the thread.

Mudroom
Jan. 23, 2011, 09:24 AM
Before you get too concerned about "hurt trainers everywhere"... keep in mind this is California. Their court system lives in is own world. That is why so many companies have left the state and or done everything they can to minimize their employment there.

cindywilson
Jan. 23, 2011, 12:56 PM
The court's decision was basically a procedural one, in which the court simply found that the trial court erred in granting a Summary Judgment to the defendant and returned the case to the trial court for trial. It did NOT rule that the "coach" was at fault but only that a trial court and jury should determine the question. The court also does not seem to have created any new law but does quite thoroughly review the long established law in the issue of assumed risk. The decision is relatively lengthy but, if you are truly interested in the facts and issues... take the time to read it. It is understandable to non-lawyers.

And, by the way, California is not "out there" in the ether when it comes to legal analysis. In fact on most legal issues, the state's court decisions are ultimately followed as a model around the country by most other states. Leading edge, yes. Crazy... no. Don Wilson