Bill S4962-2013

Establishes parameters of civil liability for persons involved in equine activities

Enacts the "equine activity safety code act"; provides that an equine activity sponsor, an equine professional, or any other person, which shall include a corporation or partnership, shall not be liable for an injury to or the death of a participant resulting from the inherent risks of equine activities, except under certain circumstances.

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  • Jan 8, 2014: REFERRED TO JUDICIARY
  • May 2, 2013: REFERRED TO JUDICIARY

Memo

BILL NUMBER:S4962

TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the general obligations law, in relation to the liability of persons involved in equine activities

PURPOSE: This bill establishes guidelines for the conduct of participants, sponsors and professionals involved in the sport of horseback riding; to educate the public as to the inherent risks in the sport of horseback riding so as to minimize the risk of injury to persons engaged in the sport of horseback riding; to promote safety in the horseback riding industry, and to preserve the financial sustainability of the equine sponsors and equine professionals engaged in the horseback riding industry

SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: The General Obligations Law is amended by adding a new Article 18-B which creates the Equine Activity Safety Code, This bill defines not only those risks inherent to the sport for which liability protection will be afforded, but also establishes affirmative acts for which stable owners, activity sponsors, and equine businesses are responsible. This legislation requires detailed posting and notifications of persons engaging in equine activities concerning the inherent risks of the sport, and mandates that participants recognize these risks and accept responsibility for themselves when they choose to participate.

JUSTIFICATION: Horseback riding as a sport and industry has enjoyed increasing growth and prominence in New York. In conjunction with this growth, the issue of liability has become a critical concern to the equine industry, not only in New York State, but nationally. Large claims paid by insurers to persons injured in accidents involving horses has driven the cost of liability insurance for stable owners and sponsors of recreational horse activities to intolerable levels. In many cases, horse farmers are risking the loss of their farms simply because they cannot afford the premium or cannot obtain coverage at all. At least 40 States have passed, or are considering, legislation similar to this proposal. The passage of this bill will take New York one step closer to its goal of preservation of farmland and open space by allowing horse farms to exist and operate, while at the same time protecting the rights of persons injured due to the negligence of another, This bill in no way establishes caps or limits on insurance awards, but rather seeks to define situations where the participant must accept responsibility for the inherent risks of participating in horse-related activities.

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: 2011-2012: S.795 - Referred to Judiciary 2009-2010: S.2412 - Referred to Judiciary 2007-2008: S.4509 - Referred to Judiciary 2006: S.6821 - Referred to Judiciary 2003-2004: S.171 Passed Senate

FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: None,

EFFECTIVE DATE: Ninety days after enactment into law.


Text

STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 4962 2013-2014 Regular Sessions IN SENATE May 2, 2013 ___________
Introduced by Sen. RITCHIE -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Judiciary AN ACT to amend the general obligations law, in relation to the liabil- ity of persons involved in equine activities THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Legislative intent. The legislature hereby finds that horseback riding is both a major recreational sport and a major industry within the state of New York. The legislature further finds: (1) that horseback riding, like many other sports, contains inherent risks including, but not limited to, the risks of personal injury, death or property damage, which may be caused by the propensity of equines to behave in ways that are not always controllable by the participant; the unpredictability of an equine's reaction to such things as sounds, sudden movements, and unfamiliar objects, persons or other animals; surface or subsurface conditions; collisions with other equines or objects; and the potential of a participant to act in a negligent manner; (2) that it is appropriate, as well as in the public interest, to establish certain duties and obligations of equine sponsors and equine professionals relative to the safety of the horseback riding public; and (3) that it is also necessary and appropriate that the public become apprised of and understand the risks inherent in the sport of horseback riding so that they may make an informed decision of wheth- er or not to participate in horseback riding notwithstanding the risks. Therefore, the purpose and intent of this act is to establish guidelines for the conduct of the participants, sponsors and professionals involved in the sport of horseback riding; to educate the public as to the inher- ent risks in the sport of horseback riding so as to minimize the risk of injury to persons engaged in the sport of horseback riding; to promote safety in the horseback riding industry; and to preserve the financial
sustainability of the equine sponsors and equine professionals engaged in the horseback riding industry. S 2. The general obligations law is amended by adding a new article 18-B to read as follows: ARTICLE 18-B EQUINE ACTIVITY SAFETY CODE SECTION 18-301. SHORT TITLE. 18-302. DEFINITIONS. 18-303. LIABILITY OF PERSONS INVOLVED IN EQUINE ACTIVITIES. 18-304. LIMITATION OF LIABILITY. 18-305. POSTING AND NOTIFICATION. S 18-301. SHORT TITLE. THIS ARTICLE SHALL BE KNOWN AND MAY BE CITED AS THE "EQUINE ACTIVITY SAFETY CODE ACT". S 18-302. DEFINITIONS. FOR THE PURPOSES OF THIS ARTICLE, THE FOLLOW- ING WORDS OR PHRASES SHALL BE DEFINED AS FOLLOWS: 1. "ENGAGES IN AN EQUINE ACTIVITY" MEANS RIDING, TRAINING, ASSISTING IN THE VETERINARY TREATMENT OF, DRIVING OR BEING A PASSENGER UPON AN EQUINE, WHETHER MOUNTED OR UNMOUNTED, OR VISITING OR TOURING OR UTILIZ- ING AN EQUINE FACILITY AS PART OF AN ORGANIZED EVENT OR ACTIVITY, OR ANY PERSON ASSISTING A PARTICIPANT OR SHOW MANAGEMENT. THE TERM "ENGAGES IN AN EQUINE ACTIVITY" SHALL NOT INCLUDE BEING A SPECTATOR AT AN EQUINE ACTIVITY, EXCEPT IN CASES WHERE THE SPECTATOR PLACES HIMSELF OR HERSELF IN AN UNAUTHORIZED AREA OR IN IMMEDIATE PROXIMITY TO THE EQUINE ACTIV- ITY. 2. "EQUINE" MEANS A HORSE, PONY, MULE OR DONKEY. 3. "EQUINE ACTIVITY" MEANS: (A) EQUINE SHOWS, FAIRS, COMPETITIONS, PERFORMANCES OR PARADES THAT INVOLVE ANY OR ALL BREEDS OF EQUINES AND ANY OF THE EQUINE DISCIPLINES, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO DRESSAGE, HUNTER AND JUMPER HORSE SHOWS, GRAND PRIX JUMPING, THREE-DAY EVENTS, COMBINED TRAINING, RODEOS, RIDING, DRIVING, PULLING, CUTTING, POLO, STEEPLECHASING, ENGLISH AND WESTERN PERFORMANCE RIDING, ENDURANCE TRAIL RIDING, GYMKHANA GAMES, AND HUNTING. (B) EQUINE TRAINING OR TEACHING ACTIVITIES OR BOTH; (C) THE BOARDING OF EQUINES, INCLUDING NORMAL DAILY CARE THEREOF; (D) RIDING, INSPECTING OR EVALUATING OF AN EQUINE BELONGING TO ANOTHER BY A PURCHASER OR AGENT, WHETHER OR NOT THE OWNER HAS RECEIVED SOME MONETARY CONSIDERATION OR OTHER THING OF VALUE FOR THE USE OF THE EQUINE OR IS PERMITTING A PROSPECTIVE PURCHASER OF THE EQUINE TO RIDE, INSPECT OR EVALUATE THE EQUINE; (E) RIDES, TRIPS, HUNTS OR OTHER EQUINE ACTIVITIES OF ANY TYPE HOWEVER INFORMAL OR IMPROMPTU THAT ARE SPONSORED BY AN EQUINE ACTIVITY SPONSOR; (F) PLACING OR REPLACING HORSESHOES OR HOOF TRIMMING ON AN EQUINE; OR (G) PROVIDING OR ASSISTING IN VETERINARY TREATMENT OF AN EQUINE. 4. "EQUINE ACTIVITY SPONSOR" MEANS AN INDIVIDUAL, GROUP, CLUB, PART- NERSHIP, LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY OR CORPORATION, WHETHER OR NOT THE SPONSOR IS OPERATING FOR PROFIT OR NOT-FOR-PROFIT, WHICH SPONSORS, ORGANIZES OR PROVIDES THE FACILITIES FOR AN EQUINE ACTIVITY, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO: PONY CLUBS, 4-H CLUBS, HUNT CLUBS, RIDING CLUBS, SCHOOL AND COLLEGE-SPONSORED CLASSES, PROGRAMS AND ACTIVITIES, THERAPEU- TIC RIDING PROGRAMS, STABLE AND FARM OWNERS AND OPERATORS, INSTRUCTORS, AND PROMOTERS OF EQUINE FACILITIES, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO FARMS, STABLES, CLUBHOUSES, PONY RIDE STRINGS, FAIRS AND ARENAS AT WHICH THE ACTIVITY IS HELD. 5. "EQUINE PROFESSIONAL" MEANS A PERSON ENGAGED FOR COMPENSATION: (A) IN INSTRUCTING A PARTICIPANT OR RENTING TO A PARTICIPANT AN EQUINE FOR THE PURPOSE OF RIDING, DRIVING OR BEING A PASSENGER UPON THE EQUINE;
(B) IN RENTING EQUIPMENT OR TACK TO A PARTICIPANT; (C) TO PROVIDE DAILY CARE OF HORSES BOARDED AT AN EQUINE FACILITY; OR (D) TO TRAIN AN EQUINE. 6. "INHERENT RISKS OF EQUINE ACTIVITIES" MEANS THOSE DANGERS OR CONDI- TIONS WHICH ARE AN INTEGRAL PART OF EQUINE ACTIVITIES, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO: (A) THE PROPENSITY OF EQUINES TO BEHAVE IN WAYS THAT MAY RESULT IN INJURY, HARM OR DEATH TO PERSONS ON OR AROUND THEM; (B) THE UNPREDICTABILITY OF AN EQUINE'S REACTION TO SUCH THINGS AS SOUNDS, SUDDEN MOVEMENT, AND UNFAMILIAR OBJECTS, PERSONS OR OTHER ANIMALS; (C) CERTAIN HAZARDS SUCH AS SURFACE AND SUBSURFACE CONDITIONS INCLUD- ING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, ROCKS, FOREST GROWTH, DEBRIS, BRANCHES, TREES, ROOTS, STUMPS OR OTHER NATURAL OBJECTS; (D) COLLISIONS WITH OTHER EQUINES OR OBJECTS; AND (E) THE POTENTIAL OF A PARTICIPANT TO ACT IN A NEGLIGENT MANNER THAT MAY CONTRIBUTE TO INJURY TO THE PARTICIPANT OR OTHERS, SUCH AS FAILING TO MAINTAIN CONTROL OVER THE ANIMAL OR NOT ACTING WITHIN HIS OR HER ABILITY. 7. "PARTICIPANT" MEANS ANY PERSON, WHETHER AMATEUR OR PROFESSIONAL, WHO ENGAGES IN AN EQUINE ACTIVITY, WHETHER OR NOT A FEE IS PAID TO PARTICIPATE IN THE EQUINE ACTIVITY. S 18-303. LIABILITY OF PERSONS INVOLVED IN EQUINE ACTIVITIES. 1. NOTHING IN SECTION 18-304 OF THIS ARTICLE SHALL PREVENT OR LIMIT THE LIABILITY OF AN EQUINE ACTIVITY SPONSOR OR AN EQUINE PROFESSIONAL, IF THE EQUINE ACTIVITY SPONSOR OR EQUINE PROFESSIONAL: (A) PROVIDED EQUIPMENT OR TACK, KNEW OR SHOULD HAVE KNOWN THAT SUCH EQUIPMENT OR TACK WAS FAULTY, AND THE EQUIPMENT OR TACK WAS FAULTY TO THE EXTENT THAT IT CAUSED THE INJURY; (B) PROVIDED THE EQUINE AND FAILED TO MAKE REASONABLE AND PRUDENT EFFORTS TO DETERMINE THE ABILITY OF THE PARTICIPANT TO ENGAGE SAFELY IN THE EQUINE ACTIVITY, AND DETERMINE THE ABILITY OF THE PARTICIPANT TO SAFELY MANAGE THE PARTICULAR EQUINE BASED ON THE PARTICIPANT'S REPRESEN- TATIONS OF HIS OR HER ABILITY; (C) OWNS, LEASES, RENTS, HAS AUTHORIZED USE OF OR IS OTHERWISE IN LAWFUL POSSESSION AND CONTROL OF THE LAND OR FACILITIES UPON WHICH THE PARTICIPANT SUSTAINED INJURIES BECAUSE OF A DANGEROUS LATENT CONDITION WHICH WAS KNOWN OR SHOULD HAVE BEEN KNOWN TO THE EQUINE ACTIVITY SPONSOR OR EQUINE PROFESSIONAL, AND FOR WHICH WARNING SIGNS, PURSUANT TO SECTION 18-305 OF THIS ARTICLE, HAVE NOT BEEN CONSPICUOUSLY POSTED; (D) COMMITS AN ACT OF OMISSION THAT CONSTITUTES WILLFUL OR WANTON DISREGARD FOR THE SAFETY OF THE PARTICIPANT, AND THAT ACT OF OMISSION CAUSED THE INJURY; OR (E) INTENTIONALLY INJURES THE PARTICIPANT. 2. THIS SECTION SHALL NOT APPLY TO THE HORSE RACING ACTIVITY AUTHOR- IZED PURSUANT TO ARTICLE TWO, THREE OR FOUR OF THE RACING, PARI-MUTUEL WAGERING AND BREEDING LAW. S 18-304. LIMITATION OF LIABILITY. 1. EXCEPT AS PROVIDED IN SUBDIVI- SION TWO OF SECTION 18-303 OF THIS ARTICLE, AN EQUINE ACTIVITY SPONSOR, AN EQUINE PROFESSIONAL OR ANY OTHER PERSON, WHICH SHALL INCLUDE A CORPO- RATION, LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY OR PARTNERSHIP, SHALL NOT BE LIABLE FOR AN INJURY TO OR THE DEATH OF A PARTICIPANT RESULTING FROM THE INHER- ENT RISKS OF EQUINE ACTIVITIES AND, EXCEPT AS PROVIDED IN SUBDIVISION TWO OF SECTION 18-303 OF THIS ARTICLE, NO PARTICIPANT NOR PARTICIPANT'S REPRESENTATIVE SHALL MAKE ANY CLAIM AGAINST, MAINTAIN AN ACTION AGAINST, OR RECOVER FROM AN EQUINE ACTIVITY SPONSOR, AN EQUINE PROFESSIONAL OR
ANY OTHER PERSON FOR INJURY, LOSS, DAMAGE OR DEATH OF THE PARTICIPANT RESULTING FROM ANY OF THE INHERENT RISKS OF EQUINE ACTIVITIES. 2. NOTHING IN THIS ARTICLE SHALL LIMIT THE APPLICATION OF THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 9-103 OF THIS CHAPTER. S 18-305. POSTING AND NOTIFICATION. 1. EVERY EQUINE PROFESSIONAL SHALL POST AND MAINTAIN SIGNS WHICH CONTAIN THE WARNING NOTICE SPECIFIED IN SUBDIVISION TWO OF THIS SECTION. SUCH SIGNS SHALL BE PLACED IN A CLEARLY VISIBLE LOCATION IN THE PROXIMITY OF THE EQUINE ACTIVITY. THE WARNING NOTICE SPECIFIED IN SUBDIVISION TWO OF THIS SECTION SHALL APPEAR ON THE SIGN IN BLACK LETTERS, WITH EACH LETTER TO BE A MINIMUM OF ONE INCH IN HEIGHT. EVERY WRITTEN CONTRACT ENTERED INTO BY AN EQUINE PROFES- SIONAL FOR THE PROVISION OF PROFESSIONAL SERVICES, INSTRUCTION OR THE RENTAL OF EQUIPMENT OR TACK OR AN EQUINE TO A PARTICIPANT, WHETHER OR NOT THE CONTRACT INVOLVES EQUINE ACTIVITIES ON OR OFF THE LOCATION OR SITE OF THE EQUINE PROFESSIONAL'S BUSINESS, SHALL CONTAIN, IN CLEARLY READABLE PRINT, THE WARNING NOTICE SPECIFIED IN SUBDIVISION TWO OF THIS SECTION. 2. THE SIGNS AND CONTRACTS DESCRIBED IN SUBDIVISION ONE OF THIS SECTION SHALL CONTAIN THE FOLLOWING WARNING NOTICE: WARNING UNDER NEW YORK LAW, AN EQUINE PROFESSIONAL OR EQUINE ACTIVITY SPONSOR IS NOT LIABLE FOR AN INJURY TO OR THE DEATH OF A PARTICIPANT IN EQUINE ACTIVITIES RESULTING FROM THE INHERENT RISKS OF EQUINE ACTIVITIES, PURSUANT TO SECTION 18-304 OF THE GENERAL OBLIGATIONS LAW. S 3. This act shall take effect on the ninetieth day after it shall have become a law.

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