In 2009 a Tennessee man was ready to enjoy a University of Kentucky football game — but first he needed to make a quick trip to the Stadium’s bathroom. While waiting in line, he saw two horse-mounted police officers escorting cheerleaders to the field, but their route was soon blocked by the UK marching band. The noise of the band and increasing crowd spooked one of the horses. It reared back and struck the Tennessee man in the back, knocking him violently to the ground. Worse, when the horse came back down it landed right on top of him, leaving him seriously injured.
According to a motion later filed by the injured man, “He suffered a fractured scapula and (coracoid) requiring multiple surgeries and neck injuries that ultimately required cervical disc fusion surgery.”
The injuries left him unable to return to work, and the multiple surgeries throughout the following years, compounded by not having proper medical insurance, cost the man nearly $200,000.
He filed a suit against the officer as well as her supervisor in hopes of recouping some of his losses. But the lawsuit wasn’t an easy one to file. The suit hinged on whether or not the officer was performing “ministerial duties” at the time of the incident.
These duties are ones that an officer performs while following laid out rules and policies — if this can be proven the lawsuit is valid. But if the officer wasn’t performing “ministerial duties,” if they were acting under their own judgment, then they can’t be held liable.
The man’s claim asserted that she was, in fact, performing “ministerial duties” because she was acting under higher orders to patrol the stadium and should have been properly trained on how to calm an out-of-control horse. The suit claimed the horse “had not undergone extensive sensory stimuli training” and by the officer’s own admission that she didn’t know a “cool-down cue” for the animal.
But a judge didn’t agree with the Tennessee man’s arguments, believing the officer acted under her own discretion, was thus “immune from being sued for official actions,” and dismissed the case The man is now appealing to the Kentucky Court of Appeals to reconsider his civil action against the officer.
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Source. Tennessean, ‘http://www.tennessean.com/viewart/20130311/NEWS03/303110037/TN-man-trampled-by-horse-Kentucky-game-appeals-suit-dismissal,’ March 11, 2013.
Source. WATE.com, ‘http://www.wate.com/global/story.asp?s=11609063,’ Erica Estep, December 2009.
Source. Kentucky.com, ‘http://www.kentucky.com/2013/03/10/2551675/man-trampled-by-lexington-police.html,’ Josh Kegley, March 10, 2013.