Horses damaged BO's barn, barn illegally rented to me - Page 2

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Horses damaged BO's barn, barn illegally rented to me

This is a discussion on Horses damaged BO's barn, barn illegally rented to me within the Horse Law forums, part of the Horse Resources category

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        12-28-2013, 11:12 PM
    Green Broke
    Originally Posted by Saddlebag    
    ... It's not criminal court.
    Good point. If the amount is $3,000 (and should be less if the OP has already paid back some) then it is more likely a small claims matter. Where I am (and I don't know what it is like in Ontario or the USA), lawyers are frowned upon in small claims and the preference is to have basically the two parties and the judge deal with the matter.
    2BigReds likes this.
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        12-29-2013, 01:30 AM
    Also, something to think about. He may just be bluffing. If he is trying to rip you off, which is what the whole situation sounds like to me. Not saying you shouldn't prepare, but he may just be trying to bully you as well. I would think it would be worth it to pay for a half hour consult with a lawyer familiar with livestock laws just to see where you stand in this situation.
    2BigReds and loveduffy like this.
        12-29-2013, 01:40 AM
    I would go to court you have nothing to lose if you lose it will still be the same payment to him if you win then he gets nothing
    natisha likes this.
        12-29-2013, 10:41 PM
    In most of Canada even if the judge does award damages to the plaintiff, it's basically worthless. The guy still has to try to collect. Don't forget, if he takes you to court, he loses time off work. Some bosses don't like that (if he has one). Cool your heels. If you get a summons, put on your Sunday best and send a smile the judge's way. He's there as a mediator.
        12-31-2013, 09:18 AM
    The barn owner seemingly has a weak case and was probably bluffing when he first claimed the damages. He would not only have to prove your horse did the damages but also how exactly the figure was arrived at if he did sue you.

    Now, he has a great case. You admitted - in writing - to the damages and agreed to the amount. You also agreed to pay back that amount.

    If the barn owner has a lawyer and is going through the regular civil court system, it is not worth fighting it. You will pay more than the money owed for a lawyer.

    Small claims court, however, will not cost you anything and is not something to be scared of. Worst case scenario is probably you spend some time in a courtroom and end up having to pay whatever it is you still owe.

    Note that most lawyers will provide a free consultation and tell you if you "have a case." Even if you are being sued in small claims court, if it worth speaking to a lawyer to get some advice.

    From what you wrote, the story sounds like this:

    - History of late payments and asked to leave
    - Barn owner claims damages
    - You agree to damages and to pay back in full
    - You look for way out of paying for damages and find a zoning technicality
    - You decide to default on payment contract

    You can probably get _something_ in small claims court. The zoning issue may be relevant, but I think it is a mistake to base your entire defense on it. For all you know, he may have obtained a variance and be allowed to legally board horses there.

    Point out that you were pressured to sign. Did he threaten to sue you? Threaten to put a lien on your property? Take away your horse? Doesn't matter what he would actually be able to do... just what he threatened to do and if you believed it could happen.

    Did you ever argue the extent or amount of damage done? Can you provide any witnesses to the condition of the property when you first started boarding there? While it is tough to argue your horse _didn't_ do the damage (since you already agreed he did) that argument is worth a shot - especially if you felt strong-armed into signing the agreement.

    Finally - do you have homeowner's insurance? Check with your agent. Some or all of the horse "damage" may be covered. If so, they will handle everything and answer any lawsuit with their lawyers. Again, the "smoking gun" is the payment agreement you signed, which may still make you personally liable for the amount.
    Chasin Ponies likes this.
        12-31-2013, 10:01 AM
    Partial payment may not be an admission of guilt if you felt you were coerced/bullied into making payment, since this is a man vs a woman.
        12-31-2013, 10:24 AM
    Originally Posted by Saddlebag    
    Partial payment may not be an admission of guilt if you felt you were coerced/bullied into making payment,
    The partial payment is not as important as the signed document. This is the OP's admission that her horse caused the damage and that she has accepted responsibility for it. Coercion is a valid issue, but she is going to have to prove that - which isn't necessarily easy. As I mentioned, it is definitely worth a shot if the OP really felt she was forced into signing (you don't want to lie in court).

    since this is a man vs a woman.
    I really hope that point alone is not enough to prove coercion. Unless the "man" involved actually implied threat of physical force (and was obviously able to carry through on such a threat) I hope gender isn't a factor for either side's argument. The other side of the sexist coin is that the BO underestimated the actual damages because the boarder wore a low cut top to distract him. :)
    Chasin Ponies likes this.
        12-31-2013, 04:13 PM
    Green Broke
    Originally Posted by Tazmanian Devil    
    ... Unless the "man" involved actually implied threat of physical force (and was obviously able to carry through on such a threat) I hope gender isn't a factor for either side's argument. ...
    If not on the basis of gender, then perhaps on the basis of size as men tend to be bigger than women. Therefore, if OP was the smaller of the two and the "signing" took place where OP felt she could not adequately protect herself (ie get into a building, get to a vehicle, do karate-type stuff, etc.) that could have been very intimidating situation if the barn owner was becoming demanding or aggressive and the only thing left to do is sign to stay safe.
        12-31-2013, 06:51 PM
    Telling her he will take her to court could be seen as a verbal threat, depending on his tone. I remember a man demanding money from my father, that he would sue. Try as he may he couldn't ruffle my father who remained polite. As the guy continued with his threats, my father interjected and told him to do what he felt was necessary, and that he (my father) would do what he felt would be necessary. This totally derailed the guy who'd advanced to hysterics and slammed the phone down. My father knew it was coming so held the phone well away from his ear. Absolutely nothing came of this.
        12-31-2013, 11:32 PM
    Anyone here in NJ? What are the laws for boarding horses up there? I am in NC, I know I HAD to have insurance to keep my friend's horse on my own property while she relocated (boarding contract required insurance). If the same insurance is required in NJ, OP could ask the judge if paying the deductible would be sufficient. And if insurance is required and the property owner didn't have it, then the boarding contract was never legal.

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