Hawkins Parnell Secures Summary Judgment for Professional Horse Trainer

June 6, 2023 – Press Release

June 6, 2023 (Los Angeles, CA) – Hawkins Parnell & Young obtained summary judgment for a professional horse trainer in California. Hawkins Parnell partners Elaine Fresch of the Los Angeles and Las Vegas offices and Melanie Smith of the San Diego office represented the trainer.

The plaintiff, an adult horseback riding student who had recently started learning to jump, filed a lawsuit against the trainer after being hospitalized and undergoing surgery for a fractured clavicle from a fall. The plaintiff alleged negligence on behalf of the trainer, claiming the horse was inappropriate for his skill level and misbehaved in previous lessons. However, the trainer and independent eyewitness both testified that the horse did not buck but merely slowed to a stop after going over a jump.

Hawkins Parnell's Equine team filed a motion for summary judgment in the Superior Court of California for Los Angeles County. Elaine and Melanie argued that the express assumption of risk barred the plaintiff's claims and that there was no evidence of any gross negligence by the trainer.

The court agreed with the defense, granting summary judgment in favor of Hawkins Parnell's client. The court upheld the waiver of liability due to no evidence of gross negligence by the trainer, noting that the plaintiff had ridden the horse in previous lessons without incident and did not ask for a new horse.