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No Bucks for a Buck Off

November 24, 2009

Cecil Davis, a Shareholder located in BLG’s Tallahassee office recently obtained a defendant’s verdict in Taylor County following a 4 day trial in which the Plaintiff, an experienced horseman, brought suit seeking to recover over $1,000,000 for personal injuries after being thrown from a horse owned by Mr. Davis’ clients. The plaintiff, a well experienced cowboy, was an occasional hired hand who assisted the defendant round up cows and calves by horseback. One morning, the plaintiff experienced difficulty catching his own horse, therefore borrowed the horse at issue, with the permission of the defendant. He rode out in a nearby pasture, chasing his own horse and another loose horse while swinging his rope and wearing large, rock grinder spurs. It was the plaintiff’s testimony that when he threw the rope, the horse bucked him off. The defendant had come out of a barn actually observed the plaintiff fall off the horse when it turned sharply while chasing the other horses. In sum the plaintiff claimed that the defendant’s horse was unfit, with dangerous qualities, and was likely to cause harm.

The plaintiff suffered a dislocated and fractured left shoulder, requiring surgical intervention. He also claimed neck, back and dental problems and that he could no longer work, particularly as a cowboy. The plaintiff’s vocational rehabilitation expert projected large figures for future medical care and lost earning capacity for the now disabled cowboy.

During the trial, Attorney Davis was able to establish that the plaintiff had ridden the horse 4 to 5 times before the accident, he had seen others ride the horse, he knew the horse was quick and fast, these qualities were good qualities for a ranch horse, this horse was used as a main ranch horse for some 4 years and that the defendant’s family members had ridden the horse with no problems.

Attorney Davis showed the jury that the injury sustained was an occupational risk of working with ranch horses and was not caused by an unsafe horse. Two shoe farriers testified they had never observed any dangerous qualities with the horse. Attorney Davis also offered evidence that trying to rope a horse from another horse while galloping in a pasture is something no experienced cowboy would do and that the plaintiff had safer options, such as using a feed bucket or using the borrowed horse to lead the loose horses through a gate near the barn and into a small, corral area. The jury ultimately found that the horse was neither unsafe or unfit, and therefore rendered a verdict in favor of the defendant, and the horse.
Cecil L. Davis, Jr.
(850) 681-4235