University of Vermont AAHS

Hammond v. Spruce Meadow Farm

 

New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division
199 A.D.2d 1014, 605 N.Y.S.2d 586
December 29, 1993

Summary of Opinion

Plaintiff Hammond was injured while riding her leased horse in muddy conditions. She sued her riding instructor and the stables. The trial court denied the defendants' motions for summary judgment and they have appealed.

The Appellate Division disagreed with the trial court. It held that in light of the background and experience of the plaintiff, she had assumed the risk of injury by riding the horse in muddy conditions. Therefore, judgment should be entered for the defendant without trial.

Text of Opinion

Plaintiff commenced this action against a riding stable, her riding instructor, and the horse owner to recover for injuries plaintiff sustained in a fall from a horse that she had leased. Defendant Hawkes, the instructor, appeals from an order denying her motion for summary judgment dismissing the complaint against her. Hawkes contends that, as a matter of law, plaintiff assumed the risk of injury inherent in jumping a horse in muddy or wet conditions, and that Hawkes thus is entitled to summary judgment dismissing the complaint.

In light of the considerable experience of plaintiff in riding horses, her admitted familiarity with the particular horse and premises, and her awareness and appreciation of the risks inherent in riding and jumping the horse in wet and muddy conditions, we conclude that plaintiff assumed the risk of her injuries as a matter of law.

Plaintiff attempts to raise a triable question of fact by alleging that the horse was "unsuitable" and "too much of a horse" for her to ride; however, it is clear that the alleged dangerous propensities of the horse played no part in causing the accident. Further, we reject plaintiff's claim of "inherent compulsion" Assuming, arguendo, that Hawkes was a "superior", plaintiff cannot show " 'an economic compulsion or other circumstance which equally impel[led]' compliance with" Hawkes' direction.

Order unanimously reversed on the law without costs, motion granted and complaint against defendant Lynn Hawkes dismissed.


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