Ask the Expert: Legal options during a strangles outbreak

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Farm Forum

Question: I am boarding my horses at a facility and they’ve had two outbreaks of strangles on the property. In my opinion, the facility had done a very poor job of biosecurity and isolation and as a result, the disease has spread. The barn has also continued to host clinics; however, the veterinarian recently quarantined the barn. Now I can’t move my horse. From a legal standpoint, what can I do about this?

Response: While I can’t provide legal advice without entering into an attorney-client relationship, I will provide general thoughts. I would first want to know if you had signed a boarding contract and release and what the provisions of the contract(s) stated about the barn’s duty to provide care to your horse as well as what you waived for claims against the barn in the release.

Second, I would have you consult with your veterinarian to see if he or she thinks the barn acted in a negligent manner. If you had a legal basis for a claim then I would suggest that you discuss it with the barn and see if the barn would be willing to refund board or other costs that were lost or incurred due to their failure to fulfill their duty of care.