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Torts — equine immunity statute

Wisconsin Court of Appeals


Torts — equine immunity statute

Where a horse owner allowed the plaintiff to hold the horse’s lead rope, summary judgment was improperly granted to the owner under the equine immunity statute.

“Applying our interpretation to the undisputed facts here, we conclude that Rebecca provided Whisper to Ruth by allowing Ruth to hold Whisper’s lead rope while Rebecca blanketed Whisper in preparation for riding. Stated in terms that match both the logic of the statutory language and Barritt, Rebecca made Whisper available for Ruth’s use in participating in the equine activity of assisting Rebecca’s participation in riding Whisper.”

“Rebecca argues that she could not have provided Whisper to Ruth because Rebecca remained in sole control of Whisper and never transferred any control to Ruth. In making this argument, Rebecca apparently views it as an undisputed fact that she retained sole control of Whisper. She relies on her deposition testimony, including testimony that: it was unnecessary for someone to hold Whisper’s lead rope while Rebecca blanketed him; Whisper would have ‘just stood there’ if Ruth had not been holding the lead rope; and Rebecca allowed Ruth to hold the lead rope only so that Ruth could pet Whisper or ‘feel useful.’ Rebecca does not address whether it might be reasonable to infer that she transferred at least partial control of Whisper to Ruth, putting Ruth and Rebecca in joint control of Whisper.”

Reversed and Remanded.

Recommended for publication in the official reports.

2012AP1916 Hellen v. Hellen

Dist. IV, Rock County, Fitzpatrick, J., Blanchard, J.

Attorneys: For Appellant: Smith, Alexander J., Beloit; For Respondent: Crooks, Michael P., Madison; Gallagher, Karen M., Madison; Olivas, Barbara, Madison; Epstein, Patricia J., Madison; Sullivan, Sheila M., Madison

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