Friday, August 28, 2009

Lawyer falls off horse, sues host for negligence

Thankfully, the court says no. The kicker: the hosts were celebrating her victory in court on another matter.

Levinson was a guest at the cattle ranch of Bert and Anne Owens, who held a barbecue to celebrate a legal victory that Levinson had secured in court. As a lawyer representing the California Department of Conservation in 2005, Levinson won an injunction that prevented Tehama County from approving a lot line adjustment.

The Owens wanted to thank her and celebrate the win by inviting her and others out to the ranch. While she admits that she was asked if she could ride one of the horses by one guests (and answered yes), she insists that Bert Owens never asked her and should have protected her from the risk. Notably, from the outset, the horse named Pistol bucked a bit but Levinson continued on the ride.

Levinson rode Pistol out of the corral and into a field without a problem but, when the horse broke into a gallop, she was thrown into a feed bunk or trough. On the way down, her face hit a barbed-wire fence and she suffered facial cuts and a broken hip. She claimed negligence and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

However, Tehama Superior Court Judge Edward J. King III granted summary judgment in favor of Bert and Anne Owens under the doctrine of assumption of risk.