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PSA: Georgia Boarders Beware - Horses "held hostage" via bogus lien

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  • PSA: Georgia Boarders Beware - Horses "held hostage" via bogus lien

    Passing this along to my fellow GA COTHers, as I was shocked to learn how an agister's lien in our state can permit a BO to slap a lien on a client's horse for any amount of money without having to prove that the charges are actually legitimately owed.

    This just happened to a friend of mine who gave notice to her trainer that she was moving her horse. The trainer protested and tried to get her to stay; when the client politely declined and arranged to have a shipper come pick up her horse, she was slapped with a notice that a lien had been placed on the horse and it could not be removed from the trainer's barn. Further, the letter stated she had ten days to pay the (outrageous, five figure) sum demanded, or the horse would be sold or otherwise disposed of.

    Friend has written documentation from the trainer stating that no money is owed, so she thought she would be able to work this out quickly and get her horse out of there, but no such luck. She has had to retain an attorney and so far they have not been able to even get the trainer/trainer's lawyer to respond. Meanwhile, the clock is ticking and my friend is frantic about what is going to happen to her horse.

    As I said, I was dumbstruck that this could happen here. So I am passing the heads up along... this is a law that needs to be changed. I have NO problem with a rule allowing trainers/BOs etc to be paid for the work they have done and properly billed for. But they shouldn't be able to make up charges out of thin air and hold your horse hostage!
    **********
    We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.
    -PaulaEdwina

  • #2
    Hopefully the lawyers can reach an agreement. I would be tempted to go at a quiet time before the month is out and take my horse. Let them sue after the fact. As long as I had my horse, I wouldn't care, since there has to be something on the books that makes what they're doing wrong.
    “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”
    ¯ Oscar Wilde

    Comment


    • #3
      What an outrageous situation. I know of a trainer who has done this to two customers, one of which was a kid and her pony, who was padlocked in the stall while the kid was informed she would be trespassing if she set foot on the farm to even come check on him.

      Comment


      • #4
        I can't even imagine the point of this... clearly staying there would keep them paying board, but nobody would use that trainer after their horse was "freed."

        What an awful, pointless situation. I hope things get cleared up for your friend.

        Comment


        • #5
          WOW. That is completely outrageous. Would you mind PMing me the trainer's name? I want to warn my local friends here in Georgia.
          Blog chronicling our new eventing adventures: Riding With Scissors

          Comment


          • #6
            I'd tack up my horse go for a trail ride and never come back.

            Comment


            • #7
              Gosh I sure hope there is more to this story. As it is posted it sounds like this trainer is right up there with the Crayola trainer.

              Comment


              • #8
                You know, adding to my other post here, I talked about this with Mr. ParadoxFarm (who is an attorney). He suggest they pay the "invoice", outrageous as it may be, and then get the horse out safely. Once you have the horse, then you can sue to get your money back, or whatever is rightfully yours. This way the horse is safe, and you can argue about money later. If it turns out the trainer made a false claim on any amount owed, most states provide for assessment of damages, including the cost of attorneys fees to defend against the lien. The easiest thing to do is satisfy the lien by paying the amount owed then sue for damages.

                Or, the person's lawyer can seek and obtain a temporary restraining order enjoining the trainer from trying to sell the horse regardless of whether or not the trainer's lawyer responds to the owner's lawyer.

                **P.S. Mr. PDX is not an attorney in GA....so these are just ideas.
                Last edited by ParadoxFarm; Oct. 18, 2013, 02:30 PM. Reason: add
                “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”
                ¯ Oscar Wilde

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                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  For those who have asked... here is the statute. Note that there is no requirement for the lien holder to prove that the bill is legitimate... and you only have ten days to pay up before your horse can be sold or "otherwise disposed of."

                  http://sos.georgia.gov/plb/veterinar...une%202007.pdf

                  For the record, I think the intent of the law is perfectly reasonable. People who board/train/care for animals shouldn't get stiffed on their bills! But the way this law is worded means that an unscrupulous person can use the statute to basically extort someone, and there is not much that the person can do about it except pay up and then try to go after them later.
                  **********
                  We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.
                  -PaulaEdwina

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    Originally posted by ParadoxFarm View Post
                    You know, adding to my other post here, I talked about this with Mr. ParadoxFarm (who is an attorney). He suggest they pay the "invoice", outrageous as it may be, and then get the horse out safely. Once you have the horse, then you can sue to get your money back, or whatever is rightfully yours. This way the horse is safe, and you can argue about money later. If it turns out the trainer made a false claim on any amount owed, most states provide for assessment of damages, including the cost of attorneys fees to defend against the lien. The easiest thing to do is satisfy the lien by paying the amount owed then sue for damages.

                    Or, the person's lawyer can seek and obtain a temporary restraining order enjoining the trainer from trying to sell the horse regardless of whether or not the trainer's lawyer responds to the owner's lawyer.

                    **P.S. Mr. PDX is not an attorney in GA....so these are just ideas.
                    Yep... agreed. And I think that was actually the first suggestion from my friend's lawyer. But of course you have to have the money sitting around to pay it. I know I don't personally have an extra five figures in my bank account and wouldn't be able to.
                    **********
                    We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.
                    -PaulaEdwina

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by ParadoxFarm View Post
                      You know, adding to my other post here, I talked about this with Mr. ParadoxFarm (who is an attorney). He suggest they pay the "invoice", outrageous as it may be, and then get the horse out safely. Once you have the horse, then you can sue to get your money back, or whatever is rightfully yours. This way the horse is safe, and you can argue about money later. If it turns out the trainer made a false claim on any amount owed, most states provide for assessment of damages, including the cost of attorneys fees to defend against the lien. The easiest thing to do is satisfy the lien by paying the amount owed then sue for damages.

                      Or, the person's lawyer can seek and obtain a temporary restraining order enjoining the trainer from trying to sell the horse regardless of whether or not the trainer's lawyer responds to the owner's lawyer.

                      **P.S. Mr. PDX is not an attorney in GA....so these are just ideas.

                      I am NOT an attorney so take my opinion for what it is worht ,...

                      I would think the problem with trying to get a temporary restraining order is that as long as the horse is on the premisis, the trainer is most likely going to be looking for ways to keep wracking up new charges.

                      I would pay-up, get out and then sue.
                      Auventera Two:Some women would eat their own offspring if they had some dipping sauce.
                      Serious Leigh: it sounds like her drama llama should be an old schoolmaster by now.

                      Comment

                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        The "bill" is well into the five figures... not an easy thing to just stroke a check for and hope you get it back.
                        **********
                        We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.
                        -PaulaEdwina

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by trubandloki View Post
                          Gosh I sure hope there is more to this story. As it is posted it sounds like this trainer is right up there with the Crayola trainer.
                          Lucassb's post is accurate. Not everyone can afford to just pay off and sue later, the trainer is making up bogus claims of money owed, in the 5 figure range. And for whoever suggested tacking up and going for a trail ride, that is hard to do in the case where the kid's pony was padlocked in its stall. Not to mention the safety implications in that scenario, what if there was a fire?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Which county is the horse in? Fulton or above Fulton? First, your friend needs to get a TRO, temporary restraining order, keeping the person from disposing of the horse. Our horse lien laws are, in my opinion, unconstitutional because of the notice factor, and other flaws, and I tried to get a lawyer south of atlanta to challenge the law's constitutionality when a Cother's dartie ponies were taken a few years ago. The woman's lawyer told me on the phone that she wouldn't do that because the judge in Forsyth GA (the city not the county) wouldn't declare anything unconstitutional. Duh! That's why we have the court of appeals and supreme court, both of which I know have judges who are smart and who would jump all over the lien law.

                            So if your friend had, before the end of today,had her lawyer go to court and get the TRO, she'd feel better. Hiring a lawyer is a crap shoot. Most don't do much. You have to have the lawyer who is respected and/or feared in court. And you have to have the lawyer who is not afraid to go to court.

                            Cherokee? Cobb? where is the horse?

                            ETA this is why you move your horse and THEN give notice and pay up your month's board and any training fees.

                            I got my friend's horse out of a barn by taking a cop with me. But I did have to pay the month's board for her horse, even though the BO had violated most of the clauses of the boarding contract. And since that day in October in 2005, I've carried bolt cutters in my truck.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I also was thinking the same thing about taking a police officer with you or sheriff, whatever. I wish them luck whatever happens.
                              “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”
                              ¯ Oscar Wilde

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Big dudes, potentially packing...and bolt cutters if needed (which I would object to any sort of locked stall anyway...fire hazard much?!!!!).

                                Or use cloak of darkness to aid in the escape.
                                The only thing the government needs to solve all of its problems is a Council of Common Sense.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  What a nightmare.

                                  It also gives me some motivation to correct a billing issue with my BO. He's not the best with the billing and I haven't wanted to deal with the frustration, but I will get it cleared up now. (He didn't apply a credit that was due so I have a balance that is rolling over that is not correct).
                                  Keith: "Now...let's do something normal fathers and daughters do."
                                  Veronica: "Buy me a pony?"

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Dramapony_misty View Post
                                    Big dudes, potentially packing...and bolt cutters if needed (which I would object to any sort of locked stall anyway...fire hazard much?!!!!).

                                    Or use cloak of darkness to aid in the escape.
                                    That depends on how bad movie cliche "southern" the cops and judges are in whatever county or local jurisdiction may be involved, particularly if its rural. I ran into it in Texas, unbelievable but actually dealt with it. That trainer may also have relatives or friends in law enforcement making it impossible to get anything done. However I would get a local lawyer familiar with that jurisdiction and those who run it who can get a judge to issue the restraining order and try that route.

                                    Sneaking around in the dark trying to remove property held under a legal lien, no matter how odious, can end up with you on the pokey. Some places it will get you shot- it is deer season, ooops.

                                    Get a restraining order. Don't have to find the statute unconstitutional, just a simple order to prevent the BO from taking possession pending further investigation. If that fails, slap her a lawsuit immediately.
                                    Last edited by findeight; Oct. 18, 2013, 04:50 PM.
                                    When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                                    The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      One caveat ... don't assume you know everything, based on only one side of the story. It could be the trainer is not a minion of evil after all, and there really are huge bills owed.

                                      That said ... I agree it is best to face up to paying double board when moving a horse. People you think you know can be unpredictable. Move and leave all bills paid and your month's notice money behind. The BO is actually better off as they have the opportunity to get another horse in before the end of the month, collect double-board and not have to feed your horse.

                                      As far as the trainer's attorney not responding to the horse owner and her attorney ... horse owner & attorney can set some deadlines and consequences of their own. Yes, this needs an aggressive lawyer who is willing to use the legal opportunities to their client's advantage.

                                      Although the horse owner is saying they don't have the money right now to settle the bill and then sue, it is very probable she will spend almost the same amount anyway. It just won't necessarily be all at once. And maybe still lose the horse? She needs to be imaginative and creative in emergency fund-raising ... which is also an opportunity to do a number on the trainer's reputation with her clients. See what I mean?

                                      Sometimes one has to understand that although they don't see themselves as a fighter, it is a fight they are in, so step up and go for it. Or if she really owes the money, come to a payment arrangement to get it settled before moving the horse.
                                      Last edited by OverandOnward; Oct. 19, 2013, 12:03 PM.

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                                      • #20
                                        Can you disclose the county the barn is in, as stated by another poster?
                                        Never Ride Faster Than Your Guardian Angel Can Fly
                                        Way Back Texas~04/20/90-09/17/08
                                        Green Alligator "Captain"

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