Louisiana “Equine Activity Immunity” Statute Examined in Serious Personal Injury Case
On September 23, 2013, Danielle Larson, an Illinois resident, but frequent visitor to New Orleans’ City Park horse facility was bitten by a horse. On May 3, 2017, the legal odyssey for Ms. Larson continues with a ruling by the Louisiana State Supreme Court in Larson v. XYZ Insurance Company. Ultimately the court decides that Louisiana’s Equine Activity Immunity Statute did not apply.
On this day, as Larson was visiting with the horses, she arrived at a stall where a pony, Wesley, was standing at the gate. Larson placed a carrot in her hand and held it out, but the carrot was knocked from her hand by the horse, causing the carrot to fall to the ground. As Larson squatted down to pick up the carrot, Wesley also reached for the carrot. Instead of biting the carrot, however, Wesley bit off Larson’s thumb.
Larson required substantial medical care. Doctors attached her injured hand to her groin for four weeks to keep what remained of her hand viable. Larson will have to be fitted for a prosthetic thumb or transfer a toe to her hand.
Because of the serious personal injuries sustained, Larson filed a Petition for Damages alleging that Equest Farm and its insurer were liable for her injuries under theories of negligence and strict liability. However, Louisiana provides immunity for “participants” of “equine activities” under certain conditions. The Horse Farm asserted that the Equine Immunity Statute, La. R.S. 9:2795.3 applied and that Larson, although seriously injured, should not be granted recovery against it.
It was stated that Larson, who visited Equest Farm for the purpose of visiting and feeding horses owned by that facility, was a “participant” and should not recover.
The original court dismissed Larson’s case, citing the immunity statute. However, she appealed.
The court of appeal reversed the summary judgment, finding that Larson was not a participant engaged in an equine activity, and thus the farm was not afforded immunity under the statute. Larson v. XYZ Ins., 2015-0704 (La. App. 4 Cir. 3/23/16), 192 So.3d 181. The appeal court concluded that the definition of “engages in an equine activity” found in subsection (A)(1) of the statute, which must be strictly construed, does not include “a visitor to a stable who feeds treats to a horse.”
So then, the farm and its insurer appealed to the Louisiana State Supreme Court.
Here, the Louisiana State Supreme Court agreed with the court of appeal and found that more facts and examination of the immunity statute were warranted.
The bottom line, Danielle Larson might recover for her serious personal injures after all.
This type of case illustrates how important it is to hire an attorney who can handle your serious personal injury case. Insurers and others don’t want to pay money for claims if they don’t have to pay. Here, Ms. Larson had her case dismissed, then reinstated, and now affirmed by the Louisiana State Supreme Court.
Contact injuredGo.com Law Firm at (225) 933-1500 or visit injuredGo.com if you need legal advice regarding a serious personal injury. We offer free consultations and are glad to help you if we can.