1999 Regular Session
To: Judiciary A
By: Representatives Eaton, Stringer, Holland
House Bill 1171
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTIONS 95-11-3, 95-11-5 AND 95-11-7, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REVISE THE SCOPE OF THE LIABILITY EXEMPTION FOR EQUINE ACTIVITIES; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 95-11-3, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
95-11-3. As used in this chapter, the following words and phrases shall have the meanings ascribed herein unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:
(a) "Engages in an equine activity" means riding, training, providing or assisting in providing medical treatment of, driving, or being a passenger upon an equine, whether mounted or unmounted, or any person assisting a participant or show management. The term "engages in equine activity" does not include being a spectator at an equine activity, except in cases where the spectator places himself in an unauthorized area and in immediate proximity to the equine activity.
(b) "Equine" means a horse, pony, mule, donkey or hinny.
(c) "Equine activity" means:
(i) Equine shows, fairs, competitions, performances or parades that involve any or all breeds of equines and any of the equine disciplines, including, but not limited to, dressage, hunter and jumper horse shows, grand prix jumping, three-day events, combined training, rodeos, driving, pulling, cutting, polo, steeplechasing, English and Western performance riding, endurance trail riding, western games and hunting.
(ii) Equine training or teaching activities, or both.
(iii) Boarding equines.
(iv) Riding, inspecting, or evaluating an equine belonging to another, whether or not the owner has received some monetary consideration or other thing of value for the use of the equine or is permitting a perspective purchaser of the equine to ride, inspect or evaluate the equine.
(v) Rides, trips, hunts, or other equine activities of any type however informal or impromptu that are sponsored by an equine activity sponsor.
(vi) Placing or replacing horseshoes on an equine.
(vii) Examining or administering medical treatment to an equine by a veterinarian.
(d) "Equine activity sponsor" means an individual, group, club, partnership, corporation, county, municipality or political subdivision whether or not the sponsor is operating for profit or nonprofit, which sponsors, organizes or provides the facilities for an equine activity, including, but not limited to, counties, municipalities, political subdivisions, pony clubs, 4-H clubs, hunt clubs, riding clubs, school and college sponsored classes, programs, and operators, instructors, and promoters of equine facilities, including, but not limited to, stables, clubhouses, pony ride strings, fairs and arenas at which the activity is held.
(e) "Equine professional" means a person engaged for compensation in:
(i) Instructing a participant or renting to a participant, an equine for the purpose of riding, driving or being a passenger upon the equine.
(ii) Renting equipment or tack to a participant.
(iii) Examining or administering medical treatment to an equine as a veterinarian.
(f) "Inherent risks of equine activities" means those dangers or conditions which are an integral part of equine activities, including, but not limited to:
(i) The propensity of an equine to behave in ways that may result in injury, harm or death to persons on or around them.
(ii) The unpredictability of an equine's reaction to such things as sounds, sudden movement and unfamiliar objects, persons or other animals.
(iii) Certain hazards such as surface and subsurface conditions.
(iv) Collisions with other equines or objects.
(v) The potential of a participant to act in a negligent manner that may contribute to injury to the participant or others, such as failing to maintain control over the animal or not acting within his or her ability.
(g) "Participant" means any person, whether amateur or professional, who engages in an equine activity, whether or not a fee is paid to participate in the equine activity.
SECTION 2. Section 95-11-5, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
95-11-5. (1) Except as provided in subsection (2) of this section, an equine activity sponsor, an equine professional, or any other person, which shall include a corporation, partnership, county, municipality or political subdivision, shall not be liable for an injury to or the death of a participant resulting from the inherent risks of equine activities and, except as provided in subsection (2) of this section, a participant's representative shall not make any claim against, or recover from an equine professional, or any other person for injury, loss, damage or death of the participant resulting from any of the inherent risks of equine activities.
(2) Nothing in subsection (1) of this section shall prevent or limit the liability of an equine activity sponsor, county, municipality, political subdivision, an equine professional or any other person if the equine activity sponsor, equine professional or person:
(a) (i) Provided the equipment or tack and knew or should have known that the equipment or tack was faulty, and such equipment or tack was faulty to the extent that it did cause the injury.
(ii) Provided the equine and failed to make reasonable and prudent efforts to determine the ability of the participant to engage safely in the equine activity and to safely manage the particular equine based on the participant's representations of his ability.
(b) Owns, leases, rents or otherwise is in lawful possession and control of the land or facilities upon which the participant sustained injuries because of a dangerous latent condition which was known or should have been known to the equine activity sponsor, county, municipality, political subdivision, equine professional or person, and for which warning signs have not been conspicuously posted.
(c) Commits an act or omission that constitutes willful or wanton disregard for the safety of the participant, and that act or omission caused the injury.
(d) Intentionally injures the participant.
(3) Nothing in subsection (1) of this section shall prevent or limit the liability of an equine activity sponsor, county, municipality, political subdivision or an equine professional under liability provisions as set forth in products liability laws.
SECTION 3. Section 95-11-7, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
95-11-7. (1) Every equine activity sponsor, county, municipality, political subdivision and every equine professional shall post and maintain signs which contain the warning notice specified in subsection (2) of this section. Such signs shall be placed in a clearly visible location on or near stables, corrals or arenas where the equine activity sponsor, county, municipality, political subdivision or the equine professional conducts equine activities. The warning notice specified in subsection (2) of this section shall appear on the sign in black letters, with each letter to be a minimum of one (1) inch in height. Every written contract entered into by an equine professional, county, municipality, political subdivision or by an equine activity sponsor for the providing of professional services, instruction or the rental of equipment or tack, or an equine participant, whether or not the contract involves equine activities on or off the location or site of the equine activity sponsor's, county's, municipality's, political subdivision's or the equine professional's business, shall contain in clearly readable print the warning notice specified in subsection (2) of this section.
(2) The signs and contracts described in subsection (1) of this section shall contain the following warning notice:
Under Mississippi law, an equine activity, county, municipality, political subdivision or equine sponsor is not liable for an injury to or the death of a participant in equine activities resulting from the inherent risks of equine activities, pursuant to this chapter.
(3) Failure to comply with the requirements concerning warning signs and notices provided in this section shall prevent an equine activity sponsor, county, municipality, political subdivision or equine professional from invoking the privileges of immunity provided by this chapter.
SECTION 4. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 1999.