I broke my boarding contract because the stable owner was feeding my horse moldy hay. She also did not build the three sided shelter she promised. She is now suing me, does she have a case?
Talk to a lawyer. We can't tell you whether or not she has a case, as we're only hearing one side of the situation.
I agree you should talk to a lawyer. Does the boarding contract you signed say that she had to build the shelter by X date or what she could and could not feed the horse?
Hopefully you took pictures and documented evrything. My guess is a small claims and two small amount to really spend money on a lawyer just tell the truth and get your proof and witnesses
Did she break contract first? Was it in the contract that a shelter had to be provided? Was the hay quality written in (and do you have proof it was moldy?) If yes, than she broke contract first and then all bets are off - you had a right to move. Contract has already been breached by her.
If it wasn't written in, then yes, she does have a case, since quality hay and a shelter were never promised and you broke contract. You would have a countercase because of the safety situation, I think, though.
Either way I'd talk to a lawyer for sure, we're just a bunch of strangers on a forum.
Usually, a lawyer will agree that you have a case. Of course, that depends on how much money is involved.
Usually, smaller monetary amounts end up in small claims court. Many people do not use a lawyer in that court and the rules are considered more "relaxed" compared to a regular court.
You can only sue for damages. From the information given, it would be hard to believe you are being sued for anything but board owed. Even at that, the barn could really only hope to collect lost income, which is less that what you were supposed to pay (if board is $500 and it cost them $300 to keep the horse, then they could expect to collect $200). Of course, anything can happen in court.
Did the stable file in small claims court? Even if your contract was for a full year (most are month to month with a 30 day notification clause) it would still fall inside small claims limits in most places.
Either way you should speak to a lawyer. Only a real lawyer in your area can properly advise you on the best course of action. Only a real lawyer can give you real legal advice.
If it does go to court, you will either end up settling on an amount or the judge will order a settlement. From the very limited information here, my guess is you are both a little wrong.
Moldy hay... can you prove it? Did you notify the stable (in writing)? Did they respond to your complaint? Did you give them an opportunity to rectify the problem? Did your horse suffer any ill effects from the hay? Did you incur vet charges? Did you call a vet to verify that the hay was moldy? Was the hay in question actually harmful to the horse and can you produce an expert who will back you up on that?
Shelter... is it in the contract? Is a time frame for building it specified? Did you notify them in writing of your intention to move due to their breach of contract? Did you give them opportunity to rectify the situation (and prove you did)?
Did you try to work this out with the stable prior to leaving?
I am not asking for the answers, only trying to point out the type of questions that will likely come up if the legal route is pursued. Remember that both sides are always sure they are "right."
Again, if you were actually sued (served papers) you need to talk to a lawyer who can properly advise you on your next step.
Thank you for all the responses. Yes she is taking me to civil court for $200 which was my monthly board. Yes I have pictures of the moldy hay. No I did not give her a chance to rectify the problem. The building of the shelter was verbal not in the contract. I live in Maryland and in Maryland you are required to have a boarding license if you board five or more horses. The barn does not have a license and she is boarding about 20 horses. To me illegally boarding horses would make the contract void. Everyone else provided their own hay except my friend and I, the barn owner provided ours.
Uhm...just out of curiosity..why would you board at a place you knew was not licensed for boarding and in turn doing so illegally?
Even if you found out after you signed the contract, the fact that you still continued to board there instead of breaking things right then and there on basis of misrepresentation (alleged legal boarding when in fact it was not) is going to be a question that also comes up.
I would imagine, given your statement here, the fact she is boarding horses illegally will also come up in court, which, in my mind, made it really dumb for her to take it to small claims..she could be facing much higher sanctions for her lack of license.
I found out about the boarding law shortly after leaving.
OK...that sounds better :)...she is still taking a chance bringing anyone into court though when she is already breaking the law. She may get your $200 back only to have to pay out much more than that in fines..and the potential loss of her current boarding posture as well as restriction for a time from being allowed to board again.
I won't sign a boarding agreement that doesn't give me an out, for any reason, with a standard 30 days notice though admittedly, unless there was some serious safety issues, I wouldn't break the 30 day notice so board would be paid and received in full.
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