Plaintiff Raudat purchased a horse from Leary and was injured when the horse bucked her off. She sued, claiming that the seller did not disclose that the horse bucked. In this trial court opinion, the court says that the seller should have disclosed that the horse was known to buck and that describing the horse as “green broke” was a misrepresentation that he did not buck.
The plaintiff, Sharon Raudat (Raudat) brings this action in two counts, the First Count in fraud and the Second Count in negligent misrepresentation. Raudat asserts that the defendant, Denise Leary (Leary) sold her a horse which she knew was dangerous and it often bucked likely to throw a rider and that if Leary had disclosed the "truth" Daryl (name of the horse) that she would not have purchased the horse. Raudet claims that Daryl bucked after the sale to her throwing her off causing a concussion but no damages are sought for this occurrence. After being thrown, Raudat engaged an experienced horse trainer who spent two and one‑half months attempting to train Daryl. The horse trainer, Pamela Pruitt (Pruitt) was thrown twice after she undertook the training after three weeks. Daryl bucked her off and continued bucking. Daryl was uncomfortable with a saddle. Although Pruitt attempted the training and informed Raudet that within a week she would be riding the horse, again during one of Pruitt's rides on the way to the barn she bucked again.
Raudat testified that she saw the advertisement. [FN1] (Exhibit 2.)
FN1. Wallingford, CT‑‑Stalls available. Daily turnout, ring, trails. Lots of hay. 5 minutes from I‑91. $275/month. Registered Appaloosa gelding 15.3 hand, green broke, 6 year old excellent ground manners. Ties, clips, trailers. Needs miles. $3,200 negotiable. 203‑949‑0727.
When she spoke to Leary the only information other than the advertisement was that Daryl would make a good trail horse and was not spooky. Leary at no time stated that the horse would buck or had bucked in the past. Leary told Raudat to lunge the horse and needed training. The parties negotiated the price for the horse at $2800. Raudat further never disclosed that the horse had not been ridden for seven months. Raudat was present when Pruitt was thrown causing her to sell the horse for $200 to a circus. The bill of sale introduced in evidence disclosed that the horse "Bucks." (Exhibit 6.)
Leary testified she owned four horses and that she had ridden regularly the three other horses and had only ridden Daryl about 20 times in the one and one‑ half years she had the horse, which she got from the owner who had boarded the horse with her for failure to pay the rental charges. Leary had the horse in her name for about six months before finally being able to sell it to Raudat. Raudat called to testify a prior prospective purchaser, Jennifer Sisk who stated around February 7, 2001 she answered the ad and was told that the horse was very green and known to buck. Leary told her that she would only sell it to an experienced rider. There was testimony also from Leary's horseshoer who stated that Leary had told him that she told Sisk about the horse bucking because Sisk was pregnant at the time. (Exhibit 9).
The defense argues that the plaintiff must prove by clear and convincing evidence that:
1. There must be a false
2. The representation must be of an existing fact.
3. The representation must be fraudulently made. (Under the more recent cases a reckless or negligent misstatement may sometimes satisfy this element; and under this reasoning "legal fraud" has become recognized by the courts, where actual fraud may be lacking.)
4. The representation must be made under circumstances which entitle the plaintiff to rely thereon.
5. The plaintiff is induced to rely upon the representation.
6. The plaintiff is damaged as a result of his reliance.
(See Wright Second Edition § 136).
Although the defendant in this case may not have made an express misrepresentation as to a material fact, she did fail to disclose a material fact that the horse bucked and having made such a statement would have resulted in no sale to Raudat.
From all the evidence adduced this court concludes that Leary knew of the dangerous propensities of this horse. The court finds less than credible her explanation as to the reasons to exercise her other horses and failure to exercise or train Daryl. The fact that Leary did not encourage Sisk to purchase the horse at the time she was pregnant is clear and convincing to this court that Leary was aware of the dangers of Daryl. The advertisement that the horse was only green broke, meaning it needed training and exercise only is a positive misrepresentation of a material fact. The plaintiff relied upon the statement it needed training only and lunge exercise to acclimate the horse.
The defendant's testimony in this case was not as credible as the other witnesses to the facts about this horse.
The plaintiff however, has not persuaded the court to award the consequential damages for the trainer and boarding of the horse.
Accordingly, judgment is entered in the amount of $2600 in favor of Raudat together with court costs on the First Count of the complaint and does not need to address the Second Count of the complaint as to negligent misrepresentation.
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