Much like other sectors within the legal umbrella, equine law can be filled to the brim with complexities that elude the average citizen. Because of this, equine lawyers work diligently to ensure clients are familiar with the given situation and have a wholistic understanding of their liability. Catanese & Wells, as experts that specialize in horse law, handle many different cases that pertain to different facets of the reality of owning, selling, buying, and riding a horse. Here, Catanese & Wells expounds upon a few reasons for litigation.
Sale of a Horse
Catanese & Wells recognizes that litigation over the purchase or sale of a horse can occur for a variety of reasons. Commonly, individuals that are selling a horse may not realize that they can be held accountable for the statements that are made in the advertisements. Published statements should always be accurate, as a trial can very quickly reveal if statements such as “ready to show” were made disingenuously by the previous owner. In several states, the wording of ads carries legal weight, and the seller can be held accountable if these statements are patently false. Catanese & Wells also realizes that those involved in litigation sometimes do not know the inherent complexities of the horse law space as it pertains to what they will be responsible for if they lose the case. For example, the seller could stand to lose both the price of the horse and the legal fees of the plaintiff, or even treble damages if they are in violation of consumer protection or deceptive trade practice laws.
Safe Sport, enacted in 2018 to respond to misconduct within both the U.S Olympic & Paralympic Movement is a topic in which firms that specialize in horse law have needed to be literate in. These procedures are required of sports organizations but, since they have recently been introduced, there is still a lot of back and forth involved with its relevance within the equine community. Rules such as the duty to report child abuse, the limiting of one-on-one interactions with minors, training for both minors and adults as to what constitutes healthy interaction, and the prohibiting of retaliation against an individual that constructs a report under the Safe Sport Act. While some do not immediately think of equestrians in the conversation of Safe Sport, their protection is immensely important and equine law specialists regularly attend to claims to assist with suing for damages.
Owning and riding horses can carry a risk of injury both to oneself and to others, and for this reason those that specialize in horse law are frequently involved with cases that address accidental injuries. California courts uphold that horses are inherently dangerous, with risks including being thrown by the horse, kicked/ stomped, falling from the saddle, and being bitten. This means that there is an assumption of risk involved with riding a horse that can protect the owner of the horse or property from liability. Catanese & Wells acknowledges that there are exceptions, however. For example, gross negligence, intentional actions, and reckless actions can make a person able to be held liable for injury that occurs. Horse law experts help clients navigate the complexities involved with liability of injuries, such as the applicability of a liability waiver to the case in question.