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Sandy v. Bushey

    Brief Fact Summary. The Plaintiff, Sandy (Plaintiff), was injured when he was kicked by the Defendant, Bushey’s (Defendant), horse. Defendant knew that the horse had vicious propensities.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. Contributory negligence is not a bar to recovery for an action in strict liability.

    Facts. The Plaintiff turned his mare and colt out in the pasture of a neighbor, which was occupied by other horses, including the Defendant’s three-year old colt. Plaintiff went to the pasture to grain his mare and was kicked by defendant’s horse, seriously injuring him. Plaintiff brought this action to recover damages.

    Issue. Is Defendant liable for Plaintiff’s injuries even if Plaintiff displayed contributory negligence?

    Held. Yes. Motion overruled.
    * Under the common law, the owners of domestic animals are not responsible for injury done by them in a place they have a right to be unless the owner knew of the animal had a vicious disposition. However, if plaintiff proves the keeping of an animal, the animal’s vicious propensities and scienter on the part of the owner, the owner is strictly liable for injuries that occur.
    * The evidence in this case suggests that Defendant’s horse had exhibited a vicious and ugly disposition and that Defendant was on notice of this disposition. The Defendant in response claims that Plaintiff cannot recover because he is guilty of contributory negligence.
    * In this state, contributory negligence is not a defense to an action for strict liability. Because negligence is unnecessary to find liability, something more than slight negligence or want of due care on the part of the injured party is required to bar recovery. The facts must establish that the injury was caused by the injured party unnecessarily and voluntarily placing himself in the way of harm knowing the probable consequences of his act, rather than by the keeping of the vicious animal. The facts in this case do not allow for such a conclusion.

    Discussion. Statutory sanction of a defendant’s conduct often is held to confer immunity from strict liability, such as in the case of injuries caused by dangerous animals at.


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