Laplace v. Briere

962 A.2d 1139 (2009)


LaPlace (P) brought suit to recover for the loss of his horse which died while boarding at a stable owned by Briere (D). P was the owner of a horse named Park Me In First. P entered into a verbal agreement with D for the care, maintenance, and training of his horses. D was responsible for providing shelter, food, water, training, and grooming to the horses when they were there. P and D were at a horse show in North Carolina when they learned that Park Me In First had died while being exercised by Bridgwood at the D stable. Bridgwood had owned horses for thirty-five to forty-five years and had trained, lunged, and cared for horses at her former husband's facility for twenty years. It is disputed whether Bridgwood got permission or not to lunge Park Me In First. The horse was well behaved for the first five minutes. He then suddenly reared up on his hind legs and collapsed on his side with blood pumping from his nose and died. The veterinarian was unable to determine the cause of death without performing a necropsy upon the horse. D claims P declined to authorize further examination to determine the cause of death, saying that he did not want to spend any more money on the horse. P does not recall having any conversation about a necropsy on the day the horse died. Bridgwood offered to pay for a necropsy, the veterinarian would not do so without the consent of the owner, and Bridgwood did not ask P for such permission. D also asked the veterinarian to conduct an examination to determine the cause of death at his expense, but she would not do so without the owner's authorization. P sued D asserting breach of the bailment agreement, breach of contract, conversion, and negligence. D was granted summary judgment, and this appeal resulted.