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    Wisconsin Lawyer
    January 09, 2019


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    Applying the Equine Immunity Statute

    WI Supreme Court

    In “Seventh Circuit Blocks Claims Under Wisconsin’s Equine Immunity Statute” (InsideTrack, Oct. 2, 2018), Joe Forward wrote that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has ruled that two horseback riders injured while riding in Wisconsin cannot sue for negligence because of Wisconsin’s equine immunity statute (Wis. Stat. section 895.481(2)), which recognizes the inherent risk involved.

    There are exceptions, he wrote. Riding facilities could still be liable for negligence if someone is injured or killed because of faulty equipment, provides a horse and does not adequately assess a person’s riding ability, or does not post warnings of dangerous trail conditions.

    None of those exceptions applied in the cases of Judy Dilley and Abigail Brown, who were both injured while horseback riding at separate stables in Wisconsin, according to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin. The cases were consolidated, and in Dilley v. Holiday Acres Properties Inc., a three-judge panel affirmed.

    A reader posted a comment:

    Reader: Seems to me if they failed to adjust the stirrups attached to the saddle (essential equipment), she had a case under the faulty equipment exception. I believe it’s reasonable to assume that exception incorporates the requirement the equipment can be used properly and for its purpose. An inexperienced equestrian is not likely to recognize the purpose of stirrups in managing a horse and certainly could not do so if they were not adjusted for her body.

    Mary Lutzen
    Sarasota, Fla.

    We Want to Hear from You! Submit a Letter to the Editor

    Wisconsin Lawyer provides a forum for members to express ideas, concerns, and opinions on law-related subjects. Send comments to (include “Letters” in the subject line), or mail to Wisconsin Lawyer “Letters,” P.O. Box 7158, Madison, WI 53707-7158. Limit to 500 words. Writing guidelines available.

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    Shining a Light on Addiction

    In “Living in Sobriety” (Wisconsin Lawyer, Nov. 2018), Michael Anspach wrote, “I am an alcoholic and I’m a lawyer. Before Feb. 22, 2011, when I finally achieved sobriety, this was my life: I was on academic probation at my undergraduate college; I was on pretrial probation for various indiscretions; I was daily diminishing the number of friendships I had; I was unable to hold a job (if I even wanted one); and each day, before leaving my apartment, I needed to self-medicate to face the world.”

    He wrote that his sober life looks vastly different: “I graduated from that same undergraduate institution; I got a job; I became a certified yoga and meditation instructor; I applied to and graduated from Marquette University Law School; and now I am a licensed Wisconsin lawyer.”

    A reader posted a comment:

    Reader: Congratulations on your sobriety and other achievements, and thank you for sharing your story. Our profession needs to be more proactive in assisting our fellow lawyers and law students in finding other ways to deal with the sometimes crushing pressures of studying and practicing law. I hope your story helps shine a light on this.

    Kathryn Bullon
    Deerhaven Consulting Services, Sombra, Canada

    Traffic Stops Revisited

    Red and Blue

    In “Unlawful Extension of Traffic Stop? Appeals Court Asks Supreme Court to Decide” (InsideTrack, Nov. 27, 2018), Joe Forward reported the Wisconsin Court of Appeals recently issued a certification in State v. Brown, asking the Wisconsin Supreme Court to decide whether a police officer unlawfully extended a traffic stop and noting that the state’s high court has already accepted review in a similar case.

    The supreme court is scheduled to hear State v. Wright in 2019. In that case, the appeals court ruled that Milwaukee police impermissibly expanded the scope of a traffic stop for a broken headlight when asking the driver about weapons, concluding that no facts supported any claim the driver posed a threat to officer safety.

    Brown addresses a similar issue on different facts, according to the certification: “[I]n the absence of reasonable suspicion, does asking a lawfully stopped motorist to exit the car, whether he or she possesses anything of concern, and to consent to a search unlawfully extend the traffic stop” when the ticket has been written but not delivered?

    The appeals court certified the case directly to the supreme court to decide whether Brown’s Fourth Amendment search and seizure rights were violated in this case. The supreme court will hear the case if a majority of justices vote to hear it.

    A reader posted a comment:

    Reader: I made a nearly identical argument to the 10th Circuit in a section 1983 case, Courtney v. Okla. ex rel. Dep’t of Public Safety, 722 F.3d 1216 (10th Cir. 2013). While we prevailed – as a matter of law – on other issues (lack of probable cause for the arrest, plus three state common-law claims), the 10th Circuit ruled against us on the extension-of-the-stop argument. Similar to the circuit court here, the 10th Circuit stated it was a “close call,” but determined that sufficient reasonable suspicion was present to extend the stop. It was a very fact specific analysis on that aspect of the case. I surmise that the same will apply in this matter, irrespective of the outcome.

    Tim Kittle
    McMurray Keesling, Tulsa, Okla.

    Preserving Voting Rights

    State Bar executive director Martin’s column “A Sacred and Fundamental Right” (Wisconsin Lawyer, Oct. 2018) was a modest piece reminding readers that voting is a fundamental citizen right and encouraging readers to exercise that right.

    In a recent “Inbox” column (Wisconsin Lawyer, Dec. 2018), a reader lambasted Mr. Martin for failing to mention what the reader viewed as “the GOP’s aggressive campaign to suppress the vote.” He called it “mind-numbing” that Mr. Martin could pen an essay on voting and ignore “the GOP’s widespread (and successful) efforts to disenfranchise certain voters.”

    With due respect to the letter writer, it appears that his letter was motivated more to perpetuate and inflame allegations of voter suppression by one political party than to present a dispassionate critique of the merits of Mr. Martin’s column.

    For my part, Mr. Martin’s message was spot on. Partisan talking points from any side should not be a part of the State Bar executive director’s column.

    Carl Buesing
    Hopp Neumann Humke LLP, Sheboygan

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