Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Article about injuries from horses


Local News

Are Horses “Naturally. . . Vicious?”

Associated Press
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — After a horse named Scuppy bit a boy in the face, a Connecticut court came to a conclusion that threw animal lovers: Horses are a naturally vicious species.
Horse owners and farmers are mobilizing as the state Supreme Court hears an appeal in the case Tuesday. Such a classification — the nation’s first, if it stands — would make owning horses uninsurable and jeopardize the state’s sizable horse industry, farmers and horse owners say.
“You could not pair children and horses, the core equestrian business nationwide that it’s all about,” said Doug Dubitsky, a lawyer who represents farmers and horse businesses.
When the boy tried to pet the horse at Glendale Farms in Milford in 2006, according to court papers, the animal stuck his neck out from behind a fence and bit the child on his right cheek, “removing a large chunk of it.”
In February 2012, the mid-level Appellate Court overturned a lower court ruling and said that testimony by Timothy Astriab, whose family owns the farm, demonstrated that Scuppy belongs to “a species naturally inclined to do mischief or be vicious.”
Although he had no knowledge of Scuppy biting anyone before, Astriab testified that Scuppy was no different than other horses that would bite if a finger was put in front of him. “Significantly, Astriab acknowledged his concern that if someone made contact with Scuppy, whether to pet or feed him, they could get bit,” the justices said.
The injury suffered by the boy was foreseeable and the owners of the farm had a duty to use reasonable care to restrain the animal to prevent injury, the Appellate Court ruled.
Astriab did not return a call on Monday seeking comment.
If allowed to stand, Connecticut would be the first state to consider horses as inherently dangerous, said Dubitsky.
Horse farmers and equine enthusiasts, who cite 2005 statistics saying that the horse industry contributes about $221 million a year to the state’s economy in boarding, training, lessons and breeding businesses, are asking the state Supreme Court to overturn the Appellate Court’s decision. The Connecticut Farm Bureau and Connecticut Horse Council filed a friend of the court brief saying that under common law viciousness generally is judged individually according to age, breed and gender, not as an entire species.
Fred Mastele, acting president of the state’s horse council, said it is encouraging horse owners to attend the hearing Tuesday and support the Astriab family.
“In our opinion, horses are not vicious animals,” he said. “They are certainly not attack animals.”
Astriab had won at a lower court in 2010, when a New Haven judge sided with the horse’s owner and ruled that the child’s father, Anthony Vendrella Sr., failed to prove the owner knew of previous incidents of aggression by Scuppy.
The Superior Court judge said Astriab testified that neither he nor anyone else had ever seen Scuppy bite a person before and that in 28 years, none of the horses at the farm bit or injured anyone.
“Cats have a tendency to scratch and horses have a tendency to bite, but the plaintiffs have failed to show, as they must, that the defendants were on notice that Scuppy specifically, and not horses generally, had a tendency to bite people or other horses,” Judge Robin Wilson ruled.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

This is a great article found on CBS Connecticut. It is a good illustration of some of the issues there are with lawsuits coming from recreational activities. Although in this article the injury happened from a child being bitten by a horse while petting it, this case can have a big impact on the liability of many business that run horse riding operations and other business like that where the public interacts with horses. Now the general rule in most jurisdictions is that a person assumes the risk of an activity like horseback riding and mere negligence is not enough to prevail in a personal injury suit against a business owner engaged in a business like this. However, if a Court rules that horses are inherently dangerous then this will hold businesses that run horse riding operations and other such operations that have horses to a higher standard of care. I have gone horseback riding myself, and I know how dangerous an activity it can be so it will be interesting to see how this case turns out when the Connecticut State Supreme Court rules on it. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Article about a case in Ireland from the where an unborn baby was given an award for damages

Girl gets €18k for injuries as a baby

A BABY, who was injured in a car accident two days before she was born, has been awarded just under €18,000 in the Circuit Civil Court for personal injury damages.

Judge Matthew Deery heard that Aoife Sheehan, now aged 14, was still in the womb when the accident in which she was injured occurred in April 1999.
Barrister John Martin said Aoife's mother, Martina Sheehan, was pregnant and driving her car when another car crashed into her at Templeroan Road, Rathfarnham, Dublin.

He said the crash had induced an early onset of labour which had resulted in a pre-term birth leading to Aoife having immediately suffered respiratory distress syndrome.
Mr Martin told Judge Deery that within hours of birth the child had been admitted to intensive care in the Coombe Hospital.
By the evening of the birth, April 15, 1999, the severity of her respiratory distress had increased and mechanical ventilation had to be initiated.
Aoife, through her mother Martina, who lives at Scholarstown Road, Rathfarnham, had sued the owner of the other car involved in the crash, Elaine O'Connor of Orlagh Rise, Scholarstown Road.
Mr Martin said the defendants had proffered a settlement of €15,000 general damages together with €2,800 special damages and he was recommending approval of the offer by the court.
Judge Deery, approving the settlement, accepted there could be substantial difficulties with liability, given the medical evidence available to the child's legal team.

Despite the fact that this article took place in Ireland this shows how a Plaintiff can be compensated for injuries that may not be apparent to most people. Although in this case the unborn baby was actually awarded the damages, I can see how an argument can be made that the mother would be entitled to compensation for the complications of her pregnancy. This case is also a good illustration of the complexities that arise when dealing with children, babies, and pregnant women in personal injury cases. There are extra steps and procedures that must be followed in these cases. That is why it is important to hire a law firm with experience in such matters. Our law firm has handled several such cases.
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