Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a Maine personal injury case discussing the state’s equine statute. Specifically, the court had to determine if the equine statute precluded the plaintiff’s case against the parents of a ten-year-old girl who struck the plaintiff while riding a horse. As the court notes, this case was the first time the Maine Supreme Court heard a case requiring the court to determine the breadth of immunity provided by the equine-immunity statute.
According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was observing children race horses at an arena. While there was a designated area for spectators, the plaintiff observed from an area that was closer to the exit. The plaintiff watched as a ten-year-old girl rode around the track several times. However, on the girl’s fourth circuit around the raceway, the girl’s horse collided with the plaintiff. The plaintiff fell, seriously injuring her wrist, and later filed a personal injury lawsuit against the girl’s parents (the defendants).
In response to the plaintiff’s complaint, the defendants claimed Title 7 Chapter 743 Section 4103-A of the Maine Revised Statutes provides the defendant’s immunity from the plaintiff’s lawsuit. Specifically, that statute provides that any “person engaged in an equine activity is not liable for any property damage or damages arising from the personal injury or death of a participant or spectator resulting from the inherent risks of equine activities.”