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CT horse owners: Important court could have consequences for keeping horses in state

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  • CT horse owners: Important court could have consequences for keeping horses in state

    CT Horse Friends! PLEASE show your support by appearing at the Hartford Superior Court on Tuesday, 9/24/13!

    Horses may be defined as vicious by the CT Supreme Court on Tuesday, September 24th 9:30 am.
    Connecticut Supreme Court oral arguments will be presented in the Vendrella v. Astriab Family Limited Partnership case. SC18949 The case is scheduled for Tuesday, September 24, 2013 at 10:00AM.
    The argument will take place at the Supreme Court, 231 Capitol Ave., Hartford, CT 06106. Check-in is 9:30AM.
    The Supreme Court will be ruling on whether the Appellate Court properly concluded that horses as a species are naturally vicious. Such a conclusion would reverse the existing legal standard and have far-reaching consequences for the keeping of horses in the state.
    This case has been in the courts since 2010 and is now being heard. This information is from the CT Farm Bureau who filed an amicus brief. You can read more on-line if you look up the case. It is important that PEOPLE BE THERE to let the court know that this is an issue that the public cares about!!!!

  • #2
    I certainly hope anyone in CT who uses Dr. Bradley Amery for their equine care will consider switching to another vet, one who is not so willing to testify in support of a lawsuit against a horse owner by a parent who failed to properly supervise their 2 year old around horses.

    The link to the actual case summary is here, for anyone else who wants to read it:
    http://www.jud.ct.gov/external/supap...3/133AP191.pdf

    Comment


    • #3
      From reading that, it sounds like the vet simply pointed out the stunning fact that horses can and do bite - something all of us as horsepeople have been taught since our very first lesson.

      Am I missing something on that front?

      I know there are ramifications to this, if horses are deemed "naturally vicious" then horse and farm owners will likely have increased insurance, requirements for better/different fencing arrangements, etc. And probably a host of other things. But in that reading, at least, I didn't see anything from the vet that wasn't simple fact.

      I do object to the term "vicious" though - horses who bite usually aren't vicious, they're just large animals doing what they do. Same with bulls who charge or cattle that trample people or cats that bite.
      "smile a lot can let us ride happy,it is good thing"

      My CANTER blog.

      Comment


      • #4
        This has been making the rounds for months and is pure hokum--it's being circulated by the head of one local chapter of "Farm Bureau" in a misleading attempt to frighten people into giving large amounts of money to her moribund organization.

        The actual suit involves one lawyer's attempt at a "hotdog" appeal to a ruling that threw his attractive-nuisance suit out of court. No one's horses or business is currently in any danger. . .

        Ignore.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by caffeinated View Post
          From reading that, it sounds like the vet simply pointed out the stunning fact that horses can and do bite - something all of us as horsepeople have been taught since our very first lesson.

          Am I missing something on that front?

          I know there are ramifications to this, if horses are deemed "naturally vicious" then horse and farm owners will likely have increased insurance, requirements for better/different fencing arrangements, etc. And probably a host of other things. But in that reading, at least, I didn't see anything from the vet that wasn't simple fact.

          I do object to the term "vicious" though - horses who bite usually aren't vicious, they're just large animals doing what they do. Same with bulls who charge or cattle that trample people or cats that bite.
          Two year old children bite too...maybe they should be classified as vicious.
          America dialed 911. Donald Trump answered the phone.

          Stop pumping money into colleges and start getting ready to earn money in the projected tradesman shortage of 2024. Make Trades Great Again!

          Comment


          • #6
            Dogs are labeled the same way in the CT Dog Bite statute....

            Comment


            • #7
              The Supreme Court will be ruling on whether the Appellate Court properly concluded that horses as a species are naturally vicious... might as well as add Humans to the list ... Nanny State Gone Wild might the title of the reality show

              Comment


              • #8
                Just to play devil's advocate, if you have a biter (I've had them) why do you have them in an area where the general public has access to them when you have a business that needs to have the general public in the area? I always kept my biters behind hot wire with a electric fence warning sign and the KY equine liability law sign. In order to get close enough, someone would have to trespass on my property.

                It sounds like, in this case, the owner did nothing to discourage the general public from petting the horses. If I had to place fault, I would place it on the owner of the horses.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Connecticut has over 60,000 horses--the highest per capita of any state except Texas. The horse business is thriving all over the state, thousands of children take lessons and there are private barns everywhere. No one with an ounce of common sense is going to insist that horses be kept as "inherently vicious" animals at a zoo, etc. We already have an "inherent risk of horse activities" law limiting liability, hung on the wall of every barn in the state! I think this whole silliness was a semantic error--the proper terminology is would be "inherent behavior of the horse" rather than "viciousness." Yes, horses CAN under some circumstances bite, kick, or charge--which is why random, untrained people shouldn't be in with loose ones, any more than they should be playing with other people's dogs, airplanes, heavy equipment, or boats! You can get hurt when you don't know what you're doing. Duh! Children should be supervised, case closed!

                  You can't fix "stupid," but you CAN dismiss a nuisance suit.

                  It's about time the PUBLIC stopped demanding that "someone pay" or a law be passed every time someone gets hurt doing something dumb. We can NOT protect everyone from everything all the time by statute! I'm tired of having every conceivable type of "victim" insisting there oughta be a law!

                  And, you can understand why I go ballistic if I see kids climbing over the walls. The bottom line is that NO ONE should be screwing around on anyone else's PRIVATE property.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by LauraKY View Post
                    Just to play devil's advocate, if you have a biter (I've had them) why do you have them in an area where the general public has access to them when you have a business that needs to have the general public in the area? I always kept my biters behind hot wire with a electric fence warning sign and the KY equine liability law sign. In order to get close enough, someone would have to trespass on my property.

                    It sounds like, in this case, the owner did nothing to discourage the general public from petting the horses. If I had to place fault, I would place it on the owner of the horses.
                    Exactly how much "discouragement" is necessary? I have double fences and signs all over the place, yet people who should know better still climb over the outer wall and hoist their Tiny Tots up directly into the faces of half-ton beasts with big sharp yellow teeth. Then I'm the Big Bad Wolf for yelling at them to please leave, that what they're doing is dangerous and it's trespassing. Oh, but we're so SPE-cial, isn't your place part of our personal Dizzneyworld?

                    For some of them it would honestly take buckshot!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Here's a very interesting article about "attractive nuisance."

                      http://www.quarterh.com/legal18.htm

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Lady Eboshi View Post
                        Exactly how much "discouragement" is necessary? I have double fences and signs all over the place, yet people who should know better still climb over the outer wall and hoist their Tiny Tots up directly into the faces of half-ton beasts with big sharp yellow teeth. Then I'm the Big Bad Wolf for yelling at them to please leave, that what they're doing is dangerous and it's trespassing. Oh, but we're so SPE-cial, isn't your place part of our personal Dizzneyworld?

                        For some of them it would honestly take buckshot!
                        You would have to talk to a lawyer, but I'm guessing you wouldn't have a liability. But that's why we all have insurance, because some asshat is going to do exactly that and, when it all goes terribly wrong, is going to think it's your fault.

                        Worst thing we ever did was allowing lawyers and drug companies to advertise on TV.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by LauraKY View Post
                          You would have to talk to a lawyer, but I'm guessing you wouldn't have a liability. But that's why we all have insurance, because some asshat is going to do exactly that and, when it all goes terribly wrong, is going to think it's your fault.

                          Worst thing we ever did was allowing lawyers and drug companies to advertise on TV.
                          Amen to that! I think the ones for drug companies especially need to get pulled...especially off channels people pay for!
                          America dialed 911. Donald Trump answered the phone.

                          Stop pumping money into colleges and start getting ready to earn money in the projected tradesman shortage of 2024. Make Trades Great Again!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Lady Eboshi, unfortunately, this is not pure hokum. You don't have to agree with the claim of the plaintiff to see that a court finding can affect everyone who keeps livestock.
                            Since most people probably don't want to take the time to read the entire case, here's the nutshell:
                            The Defendant (Astriab) operated a nursery/farmstand type business selling plants, vegetables, etc. He also operated a horse boarding facility on the property.
                            The Plaintiff took his 2 yr old son to the stand. After buying plants, he took his son over to the fence to see the horses. Dad (not son) was petting one horse. Stopped petting, son was distracted by another horse. While distracted, horse they were petting leaned over the fence, bit son on the face. Suit alleges need for surgery, permanent scar. The son's pics on Facebook (today, 8 years later) look OK, if there is a scar, no larger than a nickel.
                            Plaintiff family claims negligence, says Defendants knew, or should have known, that horses belong to a "species naturally inclined to do mischief or be vicious". That partial quote comes from Bischoff, a case dating back to 1914 about a bite by a domestic cat that controls the debate here.

                            So, while it certainly seems absurd to be applying a case from 1914 about a cat bite to this case, that's the way the law works. if there is not a more recent or more applicable case for the court to rely on, they look at the decisions that have gone before.

                            The lower court found the Defendants not liable because they had no prior notice that this particular horse had a tendency to bit. The Appellate court held that the trial court should have not stopped there, but also considered whether the Defendants had any responsibility to forsee that horses, as a species, met the "vicious" standard set forth in Bischoff.

                            The court goes on to say that ‘‘the law makes no distinction
                            between an animal dangerous from viciousness and
                            one merely mischievous or dangerous from playfulness,
                            but puts on the owner of both the duty of restraint
                            when he knows of the animal’s propensities’’); Groner v.
                            Hedrick, 403 Pa. 148, 151, 169 A.2d 302 (1961) (‘‘[s]ince
                            intention forms no part of an animal’s assault and battery,
                            the mood in which it inflicts harm is immaterial,
                            so far as the owner’s duty goes"

                            So the term "vicious" does not ascribe intent to the animal.

                            I certainly agree that this parent was an idiot to bring his 2 year old over to the fence if the parent had no experience with horses. After all, you wouldn't bring your child over to pet a 1200 lb German Shepherd, would you?

                            But the question before the court is whether the law required the Defendant to see that something bad was likely to come of his patrons being able to access the horses.

                            And caffeinated, I called out the vet not so much for what he said, which is true, but for being a hired gun for the plaintiff in this case. He was not a witness to the incident, nor, as far as I can tell, the vet for this horse, but simply provided testimony as an "expert".

                            Here's hoping that the Supreme Court concurs with the lower court that the Defendants only had a duty if they had actual notice that the horse in question could be dangerous.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I don't see why they just didn't sue under the attractive nuisance aspect. That would appear to be a sure thing.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                The CT Equine Liability statute really carries little weight compared to laws like the CT Dog Bite Statute which says the same things about dogs that this case is saying about horses - that they are assumed to do what is in their nature to do despite all claims, history, efforts by the owners, training, etc.

                                While this is in many ways an unfortunate ruling for horse owners, as someone negatively affected by the legal weight of the CT Equine Liability Statute, I appreciate the clarification that this provides ---- Horses are animals and have natural tendencies to do things we cannot control or predict, just like dogs. Like dog owners, horse owners have responsibilities to control their animals and their natural tendencies.

                                I also think the attractive nuisance argument bears a lot of weight as the horses in this case were an attraction at the farm - a confirmed part of the customer experience - which could differentiate this incident from one involving an average horse or landowner.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Lady Eboshi View Post
                                  This has been making the rounds for months and is pure hokum--it's being circulated by the head of one local chapter of "Farm Bureau" in a misleading attempt to frighten people into giving large amounts of money to her moribund organization.

                                  The actual suit involves one lawyer's attempt at a "hotdog" appeal to a ruling that threw his attractive-nuisance suit out of court. No one's horses or business is currently in any danger. . .

                                  Ignore.
                                  In reading the link to the opinion (which is on the court's website) it is not hokum and this issue truly is before the courts and the decision could have broad liability implications for horse owners.
                                  That being said, the court does not care if lots of people show up to watch and care about this issue.
                                  There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.(Churchill)

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Hinderella View Post
                                    But the question before the court is whether the law required the Defendant to see that something bad was likely to come of his patrons being able to access the horses.
                                    Dunno about the law, but I certainly think common sense would dictate that they should have been a little more careful about allowing customers to pet the horses. :/

                                    And caffeinated, I called out the vet not so much for what he said, which is true, but for being a hired gun for the plaintiff in this case. He was not a witness to the incident, nor, as far as I can tell, the vet for this horse, but simply provided testimony as an "expert".
                                    Expert witnesses are pretty important to the legal process, though. It sucks that his involvement was "against" the horse owners/BO, but someone has to do it. I would hope any similar case would make use of experts in their field to explain stuff to the jury. You don't have to see a specific incident to be able to say "yes, horses can bite, even good horses" Someone has to explain that to the jury besides the lawyers. Doesn't make him less of a vet or somehow the enemy of the common horseman.
                                    "smile a lot can let us ride happy,it is good thing"

                                    My CANTER blog.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      The problem is many people don't pay attention to these kinds of rulings until AFTER they've passed and have a detrimental effect on them - no matter what the case or cause is. In every state, in every county, city there are beaurecrats who think they know what's best for everyone - like mandating salt off tables or no more 32 oz drinks...these laws that the pass can last for decades and decades..we can no longer stick our heads in the sand thinking it cannot, will not happen.. I live in a state where they just passed a rain tax! Yep, now I have the special privilege of paying a tax on the run-off from my roof... if you think that some beaurecrat can't claim your horse is vicious... think again.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Hinderella View Post
                                        I certainly hope anyone in CT who uses Dr. Bradley Amery for their equine care will consider switching to another vet, one who is not so willing to testify in support of a lawsuit against a horse owner by a parent who failed to properly supervise their 2 year old around horses.

                                        The link to the actual case summary is here, for anyone else who wants to read it:
                                        http://www.jud.ct.gov/external/supap...3/133AP191.pdf
                                        why are you bashing the vet? The defendant in the case, who apparently was present at the time of the bite, agreed in his own deposition with everything the vet said. The defendant's admissions were sufficient to overturn the judge's granting of summary judgment. And the horse bit the kid on the face. This was not a "bite the hand that fed him" incident.

                                        While I do not want horses declared as vicious, per se, I do think the defendant was negligent in allowing people to pet the horse without the defendant being right there holding the horse. I've known people who have taken their kids out with carrots to feed horses in herds at barns where I have boarded. My flat rule is "do not feed my horses, ever." And my horses do not approach people in pastures when the people are feeding other horses treats. But barn workers have ignored that rule and one crazy woman used to go out and feed Cloudy carrots, when I said "no no too much sugar." She said carrots don't have sugar. And people have actually sent their relatives with autism syndrome out to "play" with Cloudy. Thank God he's careful.

                                        Horses can be considered an attractive nuisance. And could be subject to the same "one bite and on notice" rule that applies to dogs in my state.

                                        The reversal of the granting of summary judgment does not mean the plaintiff will win the case. It does mean that if you "invite" people who buy things from you to "pet the horses," you had better be standing there holding the horse when the petting occurs. Each case of an animal law suit does not mean that the plaintiff will win the case before a jury. Each case does mean we should all learn to make sure we don't invite law suits as animal owners.

                                        and I forget: what was lady eboshi's other Coth name?

                                        Comment

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