Case details

Alleged horse owner claimed pens complied with standards





Result type

Not present

brain, brain injury, cervical, disfigurement, emotional distress, face, facial laceration, frontal lobe contusion, lip, mental, neck, nose, psychological, scar, sprain
At around 10:30 p.m. on March 12, 2016, plaintiff Angelica Solorio, an unemployed 26 year old, was driving a 2005 Chrysler PT Cruiser with plaintiff Diana Barajas, an unemployed 19 year old, as a front seat passenger and plaintiff Matthew Merlos, 2, seated in his car seat behind them. They were westbound on Mount Whitney Avenue, in Riverdale, traveling the posted speed limit of 50 mph, when one or two horses suddenly rushed onto the road from the north, headed in a southerly direction. One of the horses, a full grown horse weighing approximately 800 pounds, collided with the front, right of the PT Cruiser. The horse was killed on impact, and the PT Cruiser veered off of the roadway before coming to a rest. Solorio claimed to her head and face, and Barajas claimed to her head, neck and back. Matthew sustained no physical . Solorio, acting individually and as Matthew’s guardian ad litem, and Barajas, acting individually, sued the alleged owner of the horses, Kerry Bonner. Barajas ultimately dismissed her case for waiver of costs one day before trial. Plaintiffs’ counsel contended that the horse involved in the accident was owned and controlled by Bonner, who maintained horses for more than 30 years and lived 30 yards north of the subject location. Counsel also contended that Bonner’s horses had escaped 18 months before the subject accident and again one month before the subject accident. Counsel further contended that Bonner constructed a fence within a week following the subject accident, and counsel presented witness testimony who claimed that the subject horse belonged to Bonner. In addition, plaintiffs’ counsel noted Bonner’s 1998 felony conviction for violent threats, and Solorio and Barajas testified that Bonner had a reputation in the community for allowing his horses to escape and for falsely denying ownership of the horses. Bonner denied ownership or control of the subject horse. The defense’s horse husbandry expert opined that Bonner’s fences and pens complied with standard practices for a backyard, non-commercial, horse containment system. The expert also opined that how Bonner kept his three horses was within industry standards., After the collision, Solorio, Barajas, and Matthew were all taken to a hospital, where they were treated and released. Barajas, who ultimately dismissed her case, claimed a sprained neck, a sprained lower back, a scalp contusion, and scalp swelling on her left frontal lobe. She also claimed scarring on her scalp. Solorio was diagnosed with severe facial lacerations. One wound measured 6 inches and was from the lateral corner of the left side of her mouth down to the lower border of the jaw. She also suffered a 2 centimeter laceration on her metacarpophalangeal joint of the third metacarpal, head lacerations in two areas, and a laceration of her lip. The 6-inch laceration was subsequently macerated and treated with a complicated closure. The lacerations were ultimately sutured with approximately 52 to 60 stitches. Solorio is left with a significant, permanent scar, which is visible on her left cheek. Plaintiffs’ counsel contended that Matthew suffers from emotional , including shock, trauma, and a resulting fear of horses. Counsel further contended that Matthew’s emotional distress continues to the present time. Solorio and Matthew waived their claims for special damages in regard to their respective medical expenses. Thus, they only sought recovery of general damages for their respective pain and suffering.
Superior Court of Fresno County, Fresno, CA

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