Court of Appeal affirms summary judgment in favor of GMSR’s horse-owner client based on occupational assumption of risk doctrine

Barrett v. Leech (July 24, 2014, D063991) 2014 WL 3659366 (California Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District, Division One) [unpublished]. A horse owner hired a farrier to trim his horses’ hooves in the owner’s outdoor corral. While the farrier was trying to secure one of the horses, the horse bumped into him. He fell backwards and hit his head on one of many obvious sharp rocks lining the corral, sustaining fatal injuries. It was undisputed that the horse caused the fall, not the rocks.

In affirming summary judgment for the owner, the court agreed that the owner owed the farrier no legal duty under the “occupational assumption of risk” doctrine because the farrier was injured while working in an inherently dangerous animal-handling occupation. It held that securing the horses was an essential part of the job for which the farrier was hired.