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St. Louis Partner Obtains Defense Verdict for Horse Training Property Owner

St. Louis Partner Kevin P. Clark recently obtained a defense verdict at the St. Louis County Court in Missouri on behalf of our client’s insured, a stable and horse riding facility property owner.

In December 2012, Plaintiff was working at an indoor riding arena as a horse riding instructor. The arena was owned by our client and leased to another entity. While Plaintiff was giving riding lessons to a disabled student, the instructor was thrown off of the horse into an arena wall that was in disrepair. Plaintiff alleged her arm got stuck between the inside arena wall and an exterior wall, causing it the bone in her upper arm to snap. Plaintiff suffered a comminuted fracture to her left humerus. The injury Plaintiff suffered required surgery, including the insertion of 19 screws and a plate. Plaintiff alleged her injury was permanent and she would never again be able to lift anything over 20 pounds with her left arm, would never ride a horse professionally again, the injury caused ongoing pain and suffering, and resulted in a large, 2 foot scar on her left arm.

During testimony, Plaintiff alleged that the indoor arena wall was poorly designed and poorly maintained. To support her case, Plaintiff called two expert witnesses to discuss the design, feasibility and improper maintenance of the arena wall. The witnesses testified as to how the inside wall should have been constructed. Kevin was able to impeach the witnesses by pointing out that one of the experts displays photographs of her own barn that does not coincide with her testimony on how an arena wall should be designed. This included cross examination of the other expert on his credentials, and that he was essentially a pole barn sales person and not a design expert of arena walls. Further, we also made the second witness concede that the company he works for advertises arena walls that are designed similarly to our client’s wall.

Kevin Clark presented our expert whose testimony explained to the jury that the wall design could be different, but that the wall in place at the time of the accident was a typical barn design and standard in the industry. Our expert testified that the wall was not maintained as it should have been, which would be the responsibility of the tenant. He also was able to establish that as a riding instructor, it was Plaintiff’s duty to inspect the wall and to make sure the facility was safe for providing riding lessons.

After four days of trial, Plaintiff requested the jury return a verdict of $350,000. Our attorney requested the jury return a defense verdict, arguing that the lease of the property is controlling and it did not require our client to make repairs, but rather, repairs were the responsibility of the tenant. Our attorney also argued that Plaintiff was comparatively negligent for riding in an environment she knew was dangerous, and assumed the risk of any injury.

The jury agreed with our St. Louis attorneys and returned a defense verdict in favor of our client.

Kevin Clark has extensive trial experience, trying numerous cases to favorable jury verdicts in both Missouri and Illinois. He vigorously represents clients to obtain the most favorable outcomes, whether by settlement or trial.  While he has experience in all facets of civil defense, Kevin specializes in defending insurance coverage, automobile and trucking matters,  toxic torts and asbestos claims, employment law and class action cases.