Earlier this month, the Vermont Supreme Court issued an opinion in a personal injury case affirming the lower court’s decision that a landlord who leased his property to a tenant was not liable when the tenant’s horse escaped and caused an accident.
In the case, Deveneau v. Weilt, the plaintiff was injured when he was involved in a single-car accident after crashing into a horse on the highway. The plaintiff filed a negligence lawsuit against both the horse’s owner as well as the man who leased land to the animal’s owner. In a pretrial motion, the landowner asked the trial court to dismiss the case against him, because he had nothing to do with the horses, and only leased the land to the horse’s owner. The trial court agreed that there was insufficient evidence to hold the landowner liable, and dismissed the case against him.
The plaintiff then appealed the decision to the Vermont Supreme Court. On appeal, the court noted that this was a case of first impression, meaning that the exact issue had never come up before. However, the court ultimately agreed with the landowner and affirmed the dismissal of the case.