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This segment contains law cases that address questions arising under liability releases signed by equestrians.  These forms, sometimes called exculpatory agreements, attempt to insulate the equine provider from liability for injuries resulting from ordinary negligence.  The policies of states vary enormously toward liability releases--some states enforce them without hesitation while other states go to great lengths to avoid enforcing them.

There are special issues about the enforceability of liability releases as applied to children.  Those cases are collected in the Injuries to Children segment.

(scroll down to view cases)




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New Hampshire Supreme Court (1995) Release form not clear enough to be enforced
Oklahoma Supreme Court (1996) Release form valid in Oklahoma
Indiana Court of Appeals (1997) Release form upheld -- rent-a-horse company wins
Ohio Court of Appeals (1997) Release form upheld -- rent-a-horse company wins
New York Appellate Division (1997) Outfitter's release form void under New York statute

Arizona Court of Appeals (1997) Release form with trail rider operator invalid
Wisconsin Court of Appeals (1998) Release form protected person but not corporation
Connecticut Superior Court (1998) Release didn't save stables from lawsuit
New York Appellate Division (1998)  Release prevents lawsuit for injury to boarded horse
Massachusetts Superior Court (1999) Release prevents lawsuit against stables for rearing horse

Wyoming U.S. District Court (1999) Release wins case of accident on trail ride
New York Trial Court (1999) Instructor's release form upheld despite New York statute
Massachusetts Superior Court (2001) Unlicensed instructor cannot claim immunity by release
U.S. Court of Appeals (2001) U.S. Army release form upheld--wins lawsuit
Tennessee Court of Appeals (2001) Court of Appeals cannot evaluate release without seeing plaintiff's testimony

U.S. District Court -California (2001) Release did not cover liability for premises defect
Florida Court of Appeals (2001) Release covered dismounting accident at Disney World
Utah Supreme Court (2001) Parental indemnification agreement with riding stables invalidated on policy grounds
Minnesota Court of Appeals (2001) Permitting strange dog to accompany trail ride may be gross negligence
New York Appellate Division (2002) Liability release did not cover defendant's negligence

New Mexico Court of Appeals (2002) Recreational activity liability releases declared void on policy grounds
Ohio Court of Appeals (2002) Expert's report created triable issue of willful and wanton
California Court of Appeals (2002) Primary assumption of risk doesn't prevent lawsuit regarding head-shy horse
Colorado Supreme Court (2002) Parent cannot waive minor's rights nor be required to indemnify against recovery
Connecticut Superior Court (2002) Health club release not valid as to risks from equipment added later

U.S. Court of Appeals (2002) Release wins case for mountain bike rental company
Connecticut Superior Court (2002) Court upholds indemnification agreement against father of injured riding student
Virginia Circuit Court (2002) Veterinarian cannot win on liability release as a matter of public policy
Virginia Supreme Court (2003) Court refuses to enforce board release in snow tubing accident case
Connecticut Superior Court (2003)
Trial court upholds father's waiver of daughter's rights

Connecticut Supreme Court (2003) Absence of reference to negligence in snowtubing release makes it ineffective
California Court of Appeals (2003) Release precludes lawsuit in guided trail ride accident
New Mexico Supreme Court (2003) Release in equine setting invalidated on public policy grounds
Connecticut Superior Court (2003) Parental indemnification clause invalid under parental immunity doctrine
U.S. District Court, Hawaii (2004) Recreational activity statute invalidates trail ride's  liability release for negligence

Michigan Court of Appeals (2004) Liability release bars lawsuit against trail ride provider; not gross negligence
Missouri Court of Appeals (2004) Effect of release limited to inherent risks of equine activities because of equine activity statute
U.S. District Court, New York (2004) No primary assumption of risk for trail ride accident because of operator negligence
New York Appellate Division (2004) Rider assumed risk when warned of dangers of companion horse
Colorado Supreme Court (2004) Liability release upheld in elk hunting accident

California Court of Appeals (2004) Release protected instructor and academy from ordinary negligence liability

Wisconsin Court of Appeals (2005) Overbroad release does not protect instructor from suit as exception to equine statute

New Jersey Superior Court (2005) Release for minor injured at skateboard park void

Connecticut Superior Court (2005) Document containing warning, release, and indemnification agreement not ambiguous

New York Supreme Court (2005 Insufficient language in release still permits protection for accident not due to negligence


New York Supreme Court (2005) Release stating warnings and rider's experience upheld

California Superior Court (2005) Release protects against injuries caused by owner’s daughter during lesson

Montana Supreme Court (2005) Illegal release admitted to prove warnings

California Court of Appeals (2005)  Parol evidence admitted to determine intention of parties

Montana Supreme Court (2006)  Unenforceable Liability release admitted as evidence of warning

Indiana Court of Appeals (2006) Owner/rider suit fails due to waiver

California Court of Appeals (2006) Association fails to show that it has no duty to control dogs bordering equestrian trail

Connecticut Supreme Court (2006)  Statute preserving suit for negligence controls over waiver
Connecticut Supreme Court (2006)  Release is against public policy when experience is on side benefiting from it