Mississippi Court Orders Trial in Car-Horse Accident

August 24, 2012

The Mississippi Supreme Court has ordered a trial in a lawsuit over a George County accident involving a car and a horse.

The personal-injury case involved a 2008 automobile collision between Diana Ladnier and Diego, a horse owned by Joseph Hester.

A George County judge ruled in favor Hester in 2010 without a trial. The state Court of Appeals upheld the trial judge’s decision last year.

The Supreme Court this past week in a 7-2 decision found there factual issues that should be presented to a jury.

The accident occurred shortly after midnight on Jan. 2, 2008, near Lucedale.

According to court records, Ladnier was driving her car when three horses ran across the road. She struck the largest horse – Diego – who weighed about 1,000 pounds.

The horses were owned by Hester.

Ladnier claimed Hester was negligent for allowing his horses to roam free.

Hester claimed he had checked the fences on his property earlier that day. He said it appeared the horses trampled down a portion of the fence and that was the first time in two years they had done that.

The Supreme Court said questions over whether the Hester’s fence was adequate for containing horses were ones a jury should determine.

“Issues of fact exist where there is more than one reasonable interpretation that may be given undisputed testimony, and where materially differing but nevertheless reasonable inferences may be drawn from the uncontradicted facts,” said Presiding Justice George C. Carlson Jr.

In a dissent, Justice Randy Pierce said the Ladniers offered only self-serving arguments that Hester’s fence was inadequate.

“The Ladniers cannot rest on the argument that the horses escaped, therefore Hester is liable,” Pierce said.

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