California Appeal Court Upholds Demurrer Ruling for Race Horse Rider and Trainer

February 15, 2023 – Press Release

February 15, 2023 (Los Angeles, CA) – Hawkins Parnell & Young partners Elaine Fresch and Melanie Smith won an appeal in the California Court of Appeal, Second District, Division 5. The appellate court affirmed the trial court's ruling sustaining a demurrer in favor of an exercise rider and professional racehorse trainer in a case arising from an incident where the plaintiff exercise rider suffered injuries from a collision between horses at the Santa Anita racetrack.

Fresch and Smith successfully argued that the collision occurred during a high-risk activity and that the defendants should not be held liable for the plaintiff's injuries. The trial court relied on the primary assumption of risk doctrine, which provides that individuals involved in activities with inherent risks assume those risks and cannot hold others liable for injuries resulting from those activities. The court found that the defendants did not breach any duty of care, and the primary assumption of risk doctrine barred the plaintiff's claims. Fresch and Smith were aggressive by attacking this claim at the demurrer level to obtain a dismissal on behalf of their clients.