Millions of equestrian enthusiasts ride horses every day without incident. But, as with any athletic pursuit involving large animals, it can be dangerous. Just ask Jenna Tatoulian, who was thrown from a horse while training in 2014, suffering multiple fractures in her pelvis and tailbone. Tatoulian is now suing the riding club, claiming that it was the club’s water truck backfiring that spooked her horse.
Here’s a closer look at Tatoulian’s lawsuit, and others based on horse riding injuries.
Tatoulian filed her lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court against the Paddock Riding Club, her trainer, Brenda Chalk, and club employee Javier Del Angel, who was driving a water truck belonging to the club when it backfired. Tatoulian claims the horse became frightened at the sound and broke into a gallop, throwing her to the ground.
Along with negligence claims against the club and its employees, alleging employees knew that sudden noises could scare a horse and cause it to gallop, Tatoulian is also claiming the club was negligent in employing Del Angel, saying he was unfit for his job and should not have been hired.
Tatoulian’s lawsuit is not unlike that of a jockey’s family in Pennsylvania. Mario Calderon suffered broken ribs and a bleed on his brain after being dragged and repeatedly kicked by the horse he was exercising at the Parx Casino & Racetrack. Calderon ultimately died from his injuries and his family filed a wrongful death suit against the track.
In Calderon’s case, it was chickens that were allowed to roam on the track that spooked his horse, and Parx knew the chickens were an issue beforehand — Calderon himself had been injured previously when a chicken scared his horse. Calderon’s family was awarded $7.8 million in the lawsuit, much of it punitive damages against the track.
Whether Tatoulian can prove the Paddock Riding Club had the same kind of knowledge that the backfiring water truck had scared horses before remains to be seen. But if you’ve been injured while riding, your best source for advice is an experienced personal injury attorney. Contact one in your area today — most are willing to provide a free consultation on your case.