A Bill to Protect Connecticut Horse Owners Heads to Governor's Desk

May 7, 2014

Horses being horses.
Credit see like click / Creative Commons

The new law will supercede the court ruling.

Governor Dannel Malloy plans on signing a bill into law that says horses are not inherently vicious. Both the Senate and House unanimously passed the bill in recent days. It was first introduced by Malloy in response to a court decision involving a horse named Scuppy, who bit a child. 

The parents sued, and eventually, the Appellate Court agreed that Scuppy's owner was liable. The court found that "a horse is naturally inclined to do mischief or be vicious." Malloy said that decision went too far, and horse owners in the state agreed. They worried equine businesses would be uninsurable because of increased liability, causing them to move their businesses out of Connecticut.

Doug Dubitsky, an attorney for the Connecticut Horse Council, said the new law will supercede the court ruling, and will go a long way to protect horse owners. "It establishes that under Connecticut law, there is essentially a presumption that horses are not inherently dangerous," he said, "and that when somebody is suing for personal injuries caused by a horse, there is a presumption that that particular horse was not inherently dangerous."

The State Supreme Court upheld the Appellate court decision, but a majority of justices said the question of whether an animal is naturally dangerous must be considered individually. The justices sent the original lawsuit against Scuppy's owners to a lower court to decide whether the Milford farm is liable for the toddler's injuries.

Based on this new law, the court would have to consider whether there was evidence Scuppy was inclined to bite, and the owners knew that, but didn't do enough to protect the child.