Horns of a Dilemma

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Q: I am a carpenter.  A farmer had asked me to repair the ripped cow mattresses in his dairy barn.  I was supposed to chisel off the bolts fastening the damaged mattresses to the stall, stretch the mattresses and then refasten the bolts.

I got my tools from the truck and started to work.  As I was working, a number of cows wandered into the area.  They would come up, drool on me, lick on me and everything else.

All of a sudden as I was down on my knees removing bolts, I noticed a bull.  He bellered within a distance of two to three feet.  I slowly kind of looked around, and didn’t know what to do.  But the bull did.  As I went to stand up, he took me in the chest.  The bull charged me and proceeded to start slamming me into the pipes in the stall.

A: As a very general proposition, a bull is a domestic animal, and the owner is not liable for a visitor’s injuries unless it knew or should have known of the bull’s vicious or violent propensities.

Prior to your accident, had this bull ever injured another person or animal or behaved in a hostile or threatening manner?  Suppose that this bull had always moved unrestrained within the barn, regularly coming into contact with other farm animals, farm workers and members of the family without incident or hint of hostility.  It had never before acted in a way that put others at risk of harm.  In that case, under the traditional rule, you cannot recover.

But a resourceful attorney ought to be able to think of a theory that can give you a better result.  Perhaps it would pay to examine the feeding records for the day: you might find an irritating substance, like hot peppers.  Perhaps you were repairing a mattress to which this bull was particularly attached.  Scientists will say that would bother any bull.

By: Scott Baron,
Attorney at Law Advertorial

The law responds to changed conditions; exceptions and variations abound. Here, the information is general; always seek out competent counsel. This article shall not be construed as legal advice.

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