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VALLEY FOCUS | Woodland Hills

McClintock to Discuss Horseback Riding Bill

March 16, 1998|ALLISON COHEN

State Assemblyman Tom McClintock (R-Northridge) will discuss a proposed law that seeks to protect horse stable operators from lawsuits by injured riders, at a public meeting Thursday at Pierce College.

"We are asking that horseback riding be considered a dangerous sport like bungee jumping," said Mary Kaufman, an equine legislation spokeswoman.

According to Kaufman, the legislation--which has been voted down three times before by the state Senate Judiciary Committee--was first introduced in 1993 after a stable owner was successfully sued when a student fell off a horse and broke an arm.

"If someone falls off a horse, it's going to happen," said Assemblyman Bill Morrow (R-Oceanside), whose most recent version of the bill was defeated in January. "But people in this litigious society are trying to shoot down this extremely positive recreational activity."

Morrow has drafted a new version of the bill that has yet to be heard by the committee.

Some stable owners said lawsuits have gotten out of control.

"[Lawsuits] are putting the horse business out of business," said Grace Mulligan, an Agoura Hills boarding stable owner.

But others, including Assemblywoman Sheila Kuehl (D-Santa Monica), disagreed. "This is about shifting the costs of injuries to the victim," Kuehl said.

The Consumer Attorneys of California--formerly the California Trial Lawyers Assn.--said they have also opposed the bill previously because it protects stable operators from intentional negligence.

"Consumers deserve protection far greater than that," said Sharon Arkin, a board member for the lawyers group.

Thursday's meeting will begin at 7 p.m. at Pierce College, 6201 Winnetka Ave., Agriculture Building, west end of campus.

Space is limited. To make reservations, call (818) 222-6279.

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