Madison - St. Clair Record

Friday, August 23, 2019

Man alleging horse fell on him at training facility files opposition to motion to dismiss

By Heather Isringhausen Gvillo | Oct 25, 2017

A man alleging his horse fell on him when it was spooked at a training facility argues that the defendants are not authorized to contest the factual allegations of the case in their motion to dismiss.

The Madison County suit was filed Sept. 25 against Gordon Gubin, individually and doing business as Classic Acres, and Barbara Gubin.

Plaintiff Alton Greenough Jr. alleges he was riding a horse in the arena owned by the defendants on Sept. 16, 2015. He alleges Gordon Gubin drove a loud vehicle into the arena without warning or notice, which frightened the horse the plaintiff was riding. As a result, Greenough claims he was thrown from the horse and it landed on him, causing injuries.

The plaintiff alleges the defendants negligently provided a vehicle that was too loud for use inside the arena.

He seeks a judgment of more than $50,000, plus court costs.

Greenough filed a memorandum in opposition to the defendants’ motion to dismiss on Oct. 18 through attorney Mark Schuver of Mathis, Marifan & Richter Ltd. in Belleville.

He argues that the motion to dismiss is a “blatant attempt” to ignore provisions of the Equine Activity Liability Act. He alleges his claims are “well-pled” and fall within the exemptions of the EALA.

He alleges the defendants failed to assert any “affirmative matter” that would bar his claims. Instead, the defendants submitted an affidavit claiming his allegations are false.”

Greenbough argues that the defendants misstate the facts of the complaint, alleging he claims he rented the horse without determining his skill level when he actually owns the horse. He alleges he never claimed to have rented the horse.

“Under the language of the Act, it makes no difference whether Plaintiff purchased or rented the horse at issue from Defendants. The General Assembly did not use the word ‘rented’ to describe how the participant at issue came to be involved in an activity with the particular equine at issue,” the memorandum states.

The plaintiff argues that the horse was residing at the defendants’ facility while they fed, cared for and trained the horse. As a result, “the law puts Defendants in a position of liability, presumably due to their knowledge of the potential for injury to Plaintiff.”

Greenough further argues that the defendants did not take his riding abilities into account when they drove a motor vehicle into the arena. He explains that they were well aware of his “beginner-level at best” abilities because he was there riding several time each week for the past year.

“Defendants failed to take into account that Plaintiff would not be able to control the horse in a situation in which the horse would be spooked, and in fact knew that Plaintiff would not be able to do so, having observed him over the prior year’s time,” the memorandum states.

Greenough also argues that while the defendants argue that they parked the vehicle in the same location in their barn every day and had operated it around the horses before with “no ill effect,” they did not argue that they operated the vehicle around the horse he was riding while he was riding it.

“Defendant’s argument does not absolve them of liability, as Defendants were required to use reasonable care to ensure Plaintiff’s safety under the specific circumstances presented herein, and not simply a general statement as to any horse and any rider at any time,” the memorandum states.

The defendants also argue that they did provide warning signs, but the plaintiff argues that they failed to assert where the signs were placed and in what condition they were in.

The defendants’ motion to dismiss has not been provided on the record.

The suit was originally filed in St. Clair County on April 24.

The defendants filed a motion to transfer on June 16 through attorney Christopher Bortz of Neville, Richards & Wuller LLC in Belleville.

They argued that the alleged incident occurred in Madison County, making transfer appropriate.

“At no time, did any of the alleged conduct occur in, nor did any of the parties reside in St. Clair County, Illinois,” the motion states.

St. Clair County Chief Judge Andrew Gleeson granted transfer on Aug. 8 after the parties agreed to transfer the case to Madison County.

Madison County Circuit Court case number 17-L-1342 and St. Clair County Circuit Court case number 17-L-215

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Madison County Circuit Court Neville, Richards & Wuller