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Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Second Department, New York

Eslin v. County of Suffolk
New York
795 N.Y.S. 2d 349 (2005)


Case Details
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Summary:   A woman was horseback riding at a ranch in New York and was injured when she fell off the horse. The woman had signed a Horse Rental Agreement and Liability Release Form before the accident. The agreement included various warnings of the risks inherent in horseback riding. The court determined that the rider assumed the risk of injury.  The lower court's decision to deny defendant's motion for summary judgment was reversed. 

Judge Howard Miller, Gabriel M. Krausman, Stephen G. Crane, Steven W. Fisher delivered the opinion of the court.


Opinion of the Court:

In an action to recover damages for personal injuries, the defendant Deep Hollow, Ltd., i/s/a Deep Hollow and Gardner Leaver Ranch, d/b/a Deep Hollow Ranch, appeals from an order of the Supreme Court, Suffolk County (Underwood, J.), dated October 22, 2004, which denied its motion for summary judgment dismissing the complaint insofar as asserted against it.

ORDERED that the order is reversed, on the law, with costs, the motion is granted, and the complaint is dismissed insofar as asserted against the appellant, and the action against the remaining defendants is severed.

The plaintiff allegedly was injured when she fell from a horse while horseback riding at a ranch operated by the defendant Deep Hollow, Ltd., i/s/a Deep Hollow and Gardner Leaver Ranch, d/b/a Deep Hollow Ranch (hereinafter Deep Hollow Ranch). Before her accident, the plaintiff completed a "Horse Rental Agreement and Liability Release Form" (hereinafter the Agreement) in which she indicated that she had over 10 hours of riding experience. She initialed the paragraphs in the Agreement which warned of the risks inherent in horseback riding, including that the horses could stop short or change directions or speed at will. The plaintiff claims that she fell from the horse when, without warning, it took off into a gallop from a canter and her foot dislodged from the stirrup.

Voluntary participants in a sporting activity are presumed to have consented to those injury-causing events which are known, apparent, or reasonably foreseeable (see Turcotte v. Fell, 68 N.Y.2d 432, 439, 510 N.Y.S.2d 49, 502 N.E.2d 964). In support of its motion for summary judgment, Deep Hollow Ranch submitted prima facie evidence that the plaintiff assumed the risk of injury, because being thrown from a horse or a horse acting in an unintended manner are dangers inherent in the sport of horseback riding (see Kinara v. Jamaica Bay Riding Academy, 11 A.D.3d 588, 783 N.Y.S.2d 636; Becker v. Pleasant Val. Farms, 261 A.D.2d 427, 690 N.Y.S.2d 76; Freskos v. City of New York, 243 A.D.2d 364, 663 N.Y.S.2d 174; Morrelli v. Giordano, 206 A.D.2d 464, 614 N.Y.S.2d 565; Rubenstein v. Woodstock Riding Club, 208 A.D.2d 1160, 1161, 617 N.Y.S.2d 603; cf. Irish v. Deep Hollow, 251 A.D.2d 293, 294, 671 N.Y.S.2d 1024). Thus, Deep Hollow Ranch established its entitlement to judgment as a matter of law dismissing the complaint insofar as asserted against it (see Zuckerman v. City of New York, 49 N.Y.2d 557, 562, 427 N.Y.S.2d 595, 404 N.E.2d 718). In opposition, the plaintiff failed to raise a triable issue of fact (see Zuckerman v. City of New York, supra ).

The plaintiff's remaining contentions are without merit.

 

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