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Butt out: injured friend of a friend files premises liability suit

The story began simply with one friend asking another for help while she was out of the state. Things quickly became more complicated, however, and the matter has wound up in court with a premises liability lawsuit.

A woman named Kathy asked a friend named Dennis to take care of her property and animals while she was away. Unfortunately, one of her female goats fell ill, and though Dennis tried to get in touch with Kathy to find out what to do, he was unable to contact her.

So he asked Darlene, a friend of his with experience with farm animals, to take a look at the sick goat. When Darlene arrived, she saw the ill female goat on the ground in a pen with some other animals. As she bent over to tend the female, a ram in the pen headbutted her. She was knocked to the ground, her arm broken.

She later required two surgeries for her injuries.

Darlene then sued Kathy for negligence. Darlene said she did not know that a ram was in the pen because it had no horns and that she’d never owned a ram or sheep and was not familiar with their territorial tendencies. She also said Dennis never warned her about the presence of a ram.

A court initially sided with Kathy in the dispute, saying there was no evidence that she knew Darlene would ever be on her property or in her pen, and that Kathy owed Darlene no duty of care.

On appeal, the appellate court said the trial court had made a mistake in issuing summary judgment in favor of Kathy. The appeals court reversed the trial court and remanded the case for further proceedings.

While this case was in Indiana, it has issues that resonate in North Carolina and across the nation.

If you have been injured on property owned by a business or individual, talk over the evidence and your legal options with a Raleigh attorney experienced in premises liability litigation.

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