ANTHONY W. FRANCIOSA, III f/n/f VANEESA S. FRANCIOSA
HIDDEN POND FARM, INC. & a.
Argued: March 8, 2018
Colliander & Brown, P.A., of Portsmouth (John D.
Colliander on the brief, and David S. Brown orally), for the
Primmer Piper Eggleston & Cramer PC, of Manchester (Gary
M. Burt on the brief and orally), for the defendants.
plaintiff, Anthony W. Franciosa as father and next friend of
Vaneesa S. Franciosa, appeals an order of the Superior Court
(Anderson, J.) granting the motion for summary
judgment filed by the defendants, Jessica Grace Elliott and
Hidden Pond Farm, Inc. a/k/a Hidden Pond Farm, and denying
the plaintiff's cross-motion for partial summary
judgment. The trial court ruled that, pursuant to RSA 508:19
(2010), the defendants were entitled to immunity from
liability for the injuries Vaneesa sustained in a horseback
riding accident. We affirm.
material facts are not in dispute. On July 20, 2014, Vaneesa
was severely injured in a horseback riding accident. At the
time of the accident, she was thirteen years old, had been
riding horses for eight years, and had been taking weekly
riding lessons from Elliott, an expert equestrian, for almost
two years. Approximately once each week, Vaneesa also went on
a "free ride" ― a ride that did not involve a
lesson. On those occasions, Elliott was not always present
and no one was assigned to supervise Vaneesa.
19, the day before the accident, Vaneesa texted Elliott to
arrange a lesson for the following day. Elliott texted
Vaneesa that, although she would not be present at the farm
on the 20th, Vaneesa had permission to take a free ride on
Wilma, a horse that Vaneesa had ridden without incident on at
least two occasions. On July 20, after riding Wilma for about
30 minutes, Vaneesa fell to the ground as she tried to
dismount. She was seriously injured when Wilma then stepped
turning to the instant lawsuit, it is useful to review the
statutory scheme in New Hampshire governing the liability of
any person engaged in an equine activity. See RSA
508:19, II. Notably, more than 25 states have similar
statutes, see Annotation, Validity,
Construction, and Application of Statutory Exemptions from
Liability for Persons Injured by Equine or Equestrian
Activities, 79 A.L.R.6th 487 (2012). Although courts in
other jurisdictions have construed these statutes, see
id., this is our first opportunity to interpret RSA
508:19. Enacted in 1998, RSA 508:19 limits the liability of
persons engaged in equine activities "for an injury or
the death of a participant resulting from the inherent risks
of equine activities." RSA 508:19, II. The pertinent
portions of the statute are as follows:
I. In this section
. . . .
(f) "Inherent risks of equine activities" means
those dangers and conditions which are an integral part of
equine activities, including, but not limited to:
(1) The propensity of an equine to behave in ways that may
result in injury, harm, or death to persons on or around
(2) The unpredictability of an equine's reaction to such
things as sound, sudden movements, and unfamiliar objects,
persons, or other animals.
(3) Certain hazards such as surface and subsurface conditions
not obvious to the equine participant or not known and
reasonably not known by the equine professional or sponsor.
(4) Collisions with other equines or objects that can be
reasonably foreseen as a result of normal equine activities.
(5) The potential of a participant to act in a negligent
manner that may contribute to injury of the participant or
others, such as failing to maintain control over the animal
or not acting within the participant's ability; except
where said negligence can be reasonably foreseen and the