Back in the Saddle Again: An Analysis of Florida’s Equine Immunity Act
H orses are an integral part of Americana. Whether through history classes,
western movies, or novels such as The Black Stallion and Black Beauty,1 e very American has dreamed of galloping across green pastures on a valiant mount in search of adventure. Many people have satisfied these dreams through trail rides at local stables or summer camps. However, in recent years opportunities for nonhorse owners to ride diminished because of litigation costs that followed horse-related accidents.2 L ike the American cowboy, America’s equestrian heritage was quickly disappearing.
Florida, along with 31 other states,3 r esponded to this equestrian crisis by enacting equine immunity statutes designed to limit the scope of liability associated with horse-related activities (the “act”).4 T he various state statutes are intended to define who is liable for horse-related accidents. Like its counterparts, the Florida act provides immunity from liability caused by the inherent risks of equine activities while excepting from its protection liabilities caused by the equine activity sponsor’s negligence. For example, the Florida act should provide immunity for a horse activity sponsor where a horse spooks after being frightened by an unfamiliar object or sound and causes the rider to suffer an injury, but may not provide immunity in this circumstance if the horse activity sponsor paired a novice rider with a horse that required an experienced rider.
While Florida’s equine community has generally praised the act, most nonlawyer equestrians likely are unaware that the act’s negligence exception greatly reduces the scope of the act’s grant of immunity. Recent court decisions from across the country demonstrate that the Florida act’s negligence exception may be used to swallow the act’s grant of immunity, particularly where suit is brought by an inexperienced rider. Although Florida’s courts have yet to address the act’s substantive provisions, these decisions provide insight to the true value of the act to Florida’s equine industry.
This article analyzes the Florida act, summarizes its major components, examines recent decisions from across the country interpreting equine immunity statutes, and analyzes the weakness created by the act’s negligence exception. Finally, the article offers suggestions to fill the gaps in the Florida act’s grant of immunity which provides that:
[A]n equine activity sponsor, an equine professional, or any other person, which shall include a corporation or partnership, shall not be liable for an injury to or the death of a participant resulting from the inherent risks of equine activities and,. . . no participant nor any participant’s representative shall have any claim against or recover from any equine activity sponsor, equine professional, or any other person for injury, loss, damage, or death of the participant resulting from any of the inherent risks of equine activities.5
The act’s grant of immunity is very broad and defines “equine activity” to include everything from horse shows, fox hunting, and trail riding to horse shoeing, veterinarian treatment, and the inspection of sale horses.6 Similarly, “equine activity sponsors” consist of individuals, groups, clubs, partnerships, corporations, stables, farms, and promoters of such facilities.7 “Equine professionals” include horse trainers, riding instructors, and those providing horse care and equipment for profit.8 The act does not apply to the horse racing industry.9
Most importantly, the act’s definition of the “inherent risks of equine activities” acknowledges the many risks associated with horses:
(a) The propensity of equines to behave in ways that may result in injury, harm, or death to persons on or around them.
(b) The unpredictability of an equine’s reaction to such things as sounds, sudden movement, and unfamiliar objects, persons and animals.
(c) Certain hazards such as surface and subsurface conditions.
(d) Collisions with other equines or objects.
(e) The potential of a participant to act in a negligent manner that may contribute to injury to the participant or others, such as failing to maintain control over the animal or not acting within his or her ability.10
The act’s descriptive listing of equine risks applies to both amateur and professional participants in equine activities regardless of whether the participant is charged for such activities.11
The act, however, does not offer blanket immunity for horse-related liability. To avail themselves of the act’s privileges, equine activity sponsors and professionals must post a visible warning sign12 and ask the participant to sign a written document,13 both of which must state that:
Under Florida law, an equine activity sponsor or equine professional is not liable for an injury to, or the death of, a participant in equine activities resulting from the inherent risks of equine activities.14
The act provides that a document executed by the participant that contains the required warning may be used instead of posting the sign.15
The act excepts from its protection negligent acts, such as where the equine activity sponsor:16
(a) [p]rovided the equipment or tack,17 and knew or should have known that the equipment or tack was faulty, and it was so faulty as to be totally or partially responsible for the injury.18
(b) [p]rovided the equine and failed to make reasonable and prudent efforts to determine the ability of the participant to engage safely in the equine activity, or to determine the ability of the participant to safely manage the particular equine based on the participant’s representation of his ability.19
The act further excepts injuries that are the result of intentional acts and willful or wanton disregard for the participant’s safety,20 as well as injuries caused by dangerous latent conditions on land of which the equine sponsor or professional was aware but failed to warn.21
Florida courts have yet to interpret the substantive provisions of the act.22 However, courts in Colorado, Washington, Louisiana, Tennessee, and Georgia have addressed liability issues arising under similar equine immunity acts. These cases, brought by riders with varying amounts of experience, show that courts do not always apply the acts with an even hand.
Two courts have applied the acts to cases brought by experienced riders. Georgia first examined its equine immunity act in Muller v. English, 472 S.E.2d 448 (Ga. Ct. App. 1996). In Muller, the plaintiff, an experienced rider, was kicked in the leg by another rider’s horse while fox hunting with a hunt club. The plaintiff had signed a release containing the act’s prescribed warning language23 and warning signs were visible at the site of the hunt, as well as at the hunt’s regular meeting places.24 The plaintiff, however, contended that the defendant hunt club could not seek the protection of the Georgia statute because it failed to comply with the statute’s posting requirement.25 The plaintiff also argued that the defendant rider’s actions fell outside the scope of the act because the injury resulted from the rider’s failure to manage her equine26 and that her conduct (in riding the horse that kicked the plaintiff) constituted willful and wanton conduct.27
The trial court denied the plaintiff’s summary judgment motion, and the appellate court reversed. The appellate court found that the defendants were immune from liability.28 The court found that the hunt club had complied with the posting requirement by both posting signs at the hunt site and club house, and by virtue of the plaintiff’s signature’s on the release.29 The Muller court also reasoned that the defendants did not fall under the management exception because it requires that the equine sponsor “provide” the horse; the plaintiff was riding her own mount.30
The court concluded that the defendant rider’s conduct in riding a horse that kicked during the fox hunt did not constitute a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of the other riders.31 The court reasoned that fox hunting is an inherently dangerous activity and that it is not uncommon for a horse to kick during a fox hunt.32 In fact, the hunt club’s members testified about numerous other incidents where their horses had kicked other riders during hunts.33 Although the horse that kicked the plaintiff had kicked twice during the previous two years, the Muller court concluded that riding such a horse during the hunt did not constitute willful or wanton disregard for the other riders’ safety.34
In Gaurtreau v. Washington, 672 So. 2d 262 (La. Ct. App. 1996), the plaintiff was injured during a horse show when she was kicked in the hip by another competitor’s horse while waiting to enter the show ring.35 Shortly before the accident the defendant’s horse had been brushed by two other horses leaving the ring and, as a result, kicked the plaintiff.36
The plaintiff argued that the defendant horse owner could not seek the protection of Louisiana’s equine immunity act because horse-show “participants” were not included within the definition of “any other person” in the statute’s grant of immunity.37 The Gaurtreau court, however, concluded that participants in equine events do fall squarely within the act’s grant of immunity to “other persons.”38 The court reasoned that this finding was consistent with the act’s purpose, which is to encourage participation in equine activities, as individuals would otherwise be disinclined to participate if they too could not seek the act’s protection.39
The Gaurtreau court also did not accept the plaintiff’s argument that the defendant’s delay in entering the show ring among a crowd of other horses fell within the act’s willful or wanton disregard for safety exception.40 The record demonstrated that the defendant’s horse did not have a reputation of violence and that the plaintiff’s injury was simply an example of the inherent risks associated with being around horses.41 Thus, the court affirmed the summary judgment for the defendant.42
Three courts have examined cases brought by less experienced riders. In Cave v. Davey Crokett Stables, 1995 Tenn. App. LEXIS 560 (Tenn. Ct. App. Aug. 29, 1995), the plaintiff, a minor attending summer camp, was injured during a trail ride when her knee was pinned between the horse’s body and a tree.43 The plaintiff filed suit against the summer camp and riding stable that provided the horses.44 The plaintiff alleged that the defendants failed to provide a safe riding environment and properly trained horses and instructors, and forced her to continue the trail ride despite her objections.45 The plaintiff contended that the defendants were outside the act’s protection because they allegedly failed to determine if she was able to safely participate in the activity and acted with willful or wanton disregard for her safety.46
The trial court granted the defendants’ motion for summary judgment based on the Tennessee equine immunity act.47 On appeal, the court reasoned that any negligent acts of the defendants that contributed to the plaintiff’s injuries would preclude the defendants from obtaining the act’s protection.48 The court concluded, however, that the record was devoid of any facts to support such a finding.49 Because the record failed to support the plaintiff’s argument that the defendants acted negligently, such as by failing to make reasonable efforts to determine the plaintiff’s riding ability, the court affirmed the trial court decision.50
In Easterling v. English Point Riding Stables, Inc., 1994 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 3470 (E.D. La. Mar. 18, 1994), a Louisiana court examined the application of Louisiana’s equine immunity act to a claim brought by an inexperienced rider. The plaintiff, a beginner rider, was injured during a riding lesson while learning to trot when his horse bolted and the plaintiff fell. In response to the defendant’s motion for summary judgment, the plaintiff contended that the defendant was precluded from seeking the statute’s protection because the defendant provided faulty tack, failed to manage the equine given the plaintiff’s riding ability, and acted with willful and wanton disregard for the plaintiff’s safety.51 The defendant (plaintiff’s riding instructor) testified that the plaintiff’s horse may have bolted as a result of noise created by a nearby horse jumping a fence, and that the horse’s martingale,52 which broke during the fall, was “well used.”53 Furthermore, the plaintiff’s expert opined that the defendant should have kept the plaintiff’s horse under greater control during the lesson.54 The Easterling court denied the defendant’s summary judgment motion because the plaintiff had raised sufficient factual issues as to whether the defendant properly managed the equine activity and provided faulty tack to the plaintiff.55
As in Easterling, the Colorado court in Reihl v. B & B Livery, Inc., 1997 Colo. App. LEXIS 68 (Ct. App. Colo. Mar. 5, 1997), also found that the plaintiff’s allegations that her injuries resulted from the equine sponsor’s negligence and gross negligence precluded a finding for the defendant on summary judgment. There, the plaintiff had rented a horse from the defendant and was injured in a fall.56 The plaintiff’s complaint alleged that the defendant was negligent in failing to properly assess her riding ability and in providing her faulty tack.57 The plaintiff contended that such conduct constituted gross negligence.58 The appellate court reversed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment for the defendant.59 The court concluded that the defendant was not entitled to summary judgment because the plaintiff’s claims were based on negligent acts that fall within the enumerated exceptions to the Colorado act’s statutory liability.60
The Florida Act
While the Florida act’s grant of immunity from liability resulting from “the inherent risks of equine activities” seems, at first blush, to cover the field, the negligence exception61 provides an easy route for inexperienced riders to circumvent the act’s statutory immunity. In Muller and Gaurtreau, the courts’ decisions may have been influenced by the fact that both plaintiffs were experienced equestrians and, thus, well aware of the inherent risks in horse-related activities. In comparison, the plaintiffs in Easterling and Reihl, both of whom were inexperienced riders, were able to avoid summary judgment by contending that the defendants were negligent in failing to properly manage the equine activity. The Cave court, which was confronted with a young child injured on a horse while attending summer camp, seemed to begrudgingly uphold the act’s immunity while simultaneously noting that the plaintiff might have defeated the defendants’ summary judgment motion by offering affidavits contending that defendants failed to properly manage the equine activity.
These decisions demonstrate that Florida’s equine community should not interpret the Florida act as blanket immunity from all liability that may arise from horse-related activities. Although the Florida act broadly defines “the inherent risks of equine activities” for which immunity should be granted, inexperienced riders may survive summary judgment by contending that the defendant failed to properly manage the activity.
For example, the Florida act provides immunity for injuries resulting from “[t]he propensity of equines to behave in ways that may result in injury, harm, or death to persons on or around them.”62 This immunity is premised on the well-settled notion that it is impossible to predict with absolute certainty “an equine’s reaction to such things as sounds, sudden movement, and unfamiliar objects, persons and animals.”63 As a result, the act should provide immunity when a trail horse spooks or runs away during a trail ride and causes injury to the rider. The plaintiff in this example should not survive summary judgment because even the most trustworthy trail horse may spook or run away, and this can happen even with a very experienced rider on board. Thus, the Florida act’s immunity should stand in this example because the injury resulted from an inherent risk in equine activities.
The application of the Florida act in our example, however, may depend on the experience level of the rider. Decisions like Easterling and Reihl show that courts are reluctant to strictly apply the act when an inexperienced rider brings claims for injuries. The inexperienced rider can attempt to avoid summary judgment by using the Florida act’s negligence exception and by alleging that the injury would not have occurred if the equine sponsor had properly matched the rider with a horse commensurate with the rider’s ability. On the other hand, an experienced rider may be less successful with this argument.
In reality, it is more likely—although by no means certain—that an experienced rider will be able to regain control of a runaway or spooked horse before an injury occurs.64 The Florida act, however, does not differentiate between experienced and novice riders. In the above example, the defendant should prevail regardless of the rider’s ability because the propensity of a horse to run away or spook is a defined risk for which the act grants immunity. To date, other state courts have refused to interpret their equine acts with such rigidity, and Florida courts may also use the negligence exception to narrow the act’s scope of immunity. Thus, while the Florida act is intended to provide immunity from liability caused by the inherent risks of riding horses regardless of the whether the participant is an avid rider or urban cowboy out for a yearly day on the ranch, only time will tell whether Florida courts apply the act with an even hand.
To fill the gaps left by the Florida act, equine activity sponsors should require all equine participants to execute releases containing exculpatory clauses. The clause should completely release the equine activity sponsor from injuries or other liability arising out of his or her own negligence. Florida courts uphold such releases provided that the exculpatory provision is based on broad, clear, and unequivocal language.65 Accordingly, the release should cover both simple and gross negligence, and specify, in as much detail as possible, the possible risks and dangers that could result from participation in equine activities, whether caused by the equine sponsor’s negligence or the inherent risks of equine activities.
Equine activity sponsors should also be careful when choosing mounts for riders. The Cave court, for example, would likely have denied the defendants’ summary judgment motion had the record demonstrated that the defendants acted negligently in choosing the plaintiff’s mount or in placing her in a riding situation beyond her capabilities.66 The Cave decision teaches that equine sponsors should be certain to determine the participant’s riding ability and match that participant with an appropriate mount. To substantiate such decisions, equine professionals should require participants to complete questionnaires concerning their riding experience. Questionnaires will limit the plaintiff’s ability to argue that the equine professional failed to determine the participant’s ability or provide a proper mount as the Florida act requires only that the equine professional make such decisions based on the “participants representation of his ability.”67
Easterling and Day v. Snowmass Stables, Inc., 810 F. Supp. 289 (D. Colo. 1993), demonstrate that equine activity sponsor’s must properly maintain their horse tack. Tack should be replaced when the leather appears well worn rather than after it tears from old age. This approach may appear to create burdensome costs for equine activity sponsors given that leather products may look worn yet remain serviceable for many years. However, by providing only durable tack to equine participants, the equine activity sponsor will not open the door to costly liabilities that could have been avoided by relatively inexpensive investments in better conditioned tack.
Finally, equine activity sponsors should take extra care to follow the prescriptions of the Florida act’s notice requirements. Equine activity sponsors should satisfy the notice requirement by properly posting the required warning and having the participant sign a document with the warning notice “clearly printed on it,”68 even though the act only requires posting or execution. Otherwise, plaintiffs injured in settings in which the document was used in lieu of the posted sign may seek to defeat summary judgment motions by arguing that contested issues of fact exist as to whether the document “clearly printed” the required warning.
Florida’s equine immunity act is a substantial step toward protecting equine activity sponsors from liabilities that result from the inherent risks of equine activities. The Florida act’s negligence exception, however, narrows the its grant of immunity by allowing certain plaintiffs to claim that their injuries resulted from the equine sponsor’s negligence.
Florida courts should preserve the act’s integrity by adhering to the act’s plain language and upholding immunity where injuries result from the inherent risks of equine activities. In certain circumstances, this may require the courts to wrestle with the difficult question of whether the liability resulted from inherent risks or the conduct of the equine activity sponsor. In making such fact-intensive analyses, Florida courts must remember that the act was intended to provide immunity regardless of the experience of the plaintiff-rider; provided that the injury resulted from the inherent risks associated with equine activities.
Finally, Florida’s equine community should not blindly rely on the Florida act while waiting to see if Florida’s courts will give a broad interpretation to the act’s immunity. Instead, equine professionals should bolster the protections of the Florida act by securing liability releases, and should take great care to strictly follow the act’s guidelines.q
1 Walter Farley, The Black Stallion (Random House 1941); Anna Sewell, Black Beauty (Random House 1877).
2 It is estimated that approximately 70,000 people per year visit hospital emergency rooms in the United States because of injuries suffered riding horses. David E. Nelson, MD, MPH, Frederick P. Rivara, MD, MPH, Corrine Condie, MD, MPH, and Suzanne M. Smith, MD, MPH, Injuries in Equestrian Sports, 20 Physicians & Sportsmedicine 53, 54 (Oct. 1994) (citation omitted). The total number of injuries caused by horse accidents is likely higher. See id. at 57.
3 Ala. Code §6-5-337 (1996); Ariz. Rev. Stat. §12-553 (1996); Ark. Code Ann. §§16-120-201 to -202 (Supp. 1995); Colo. Rev. Stat. §13-21-119 (Supp. 1996); Conn. Gen. Stat. §52-577p (1997); Ga. Code Ann. §§4-12-1- 4 (Michie Supp. 1996); Haw. Rev. Stat. §§663B-1 -2 (Michie Supp. 1996); Idaho Code §§6-1801 to-1802 (Michie Supp. 1996); Ind. Code §§34-4-44-1-12 (Supp. 1996); 1994 Kan. Sess. Laws 290; La. Rev. Stat. §9:2795.1 (West Supp. 1997); Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 7, §§4101-4104 (West 1996); Mass. Ann. Laws ch. 128, §2D (Law. Co-op. 1996); Mich. Stat. Ann. §12.418(1) (Law. Co-op. 1996); Miss. Code Ann. §95-11-1-7 (Supp. 1996); Mo. Rev. Stat. §537.325 (1996); Mont. Code
Ann. §§27-1-725 -728 (1995); N.M. Stat. Ann. §§42-13-1 to -5 (1996); N.D. Cent. Code
§§53-10-01-02 (Supp. 1995); Or. Rev. Stat. §§30.687-.697 (Supp. 1996); R.I. Gen. Laws §§4-21-1 -4 (Supp. 1996); S.C. Code Ann. §§47-9-710 to -730 (Law. Co-op. Supp. 1996); S.D. Codified Laws Ann. §§42-11-1-5 (Supp. 1997); Tenn. Code Ann. §§44-20-101 to -105 (Supp. 1996); Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code §87.001 (Supp. 1997); Utah Code Ann. §§78-27b-101-102 (Supp. 1996); Va. Code Ann. §§3.1-796.130-.133 (Michie Supp. 1996); Vermont Stat. Ann. §§1039 (Supp. 1996); Wash. Rev. Code §§4.24.530-.540 (1996); W. Va. Code Ann. §§20-4-1-7 (Supp. 1996); Wyo. Stat. §§1-1-121-124 (1997).
4 Fla. Stat. §§773.01 et seq. (1995).
5 Fla. Stat. §773.02 (1995) (emphasis added).
6 Fla. Stat. §773.01(3)(a)-(g) (1995).
7 Fla. Stat. §773.01(4) (1995).
8 Fla. Stat. §773.01(5)(a)-(d) (1995).
9 Fla. Stat. §773.03(1) (1995). Florida laws concerning the horse racing industry are found in Fla. Stat. ch. 550.
10 Fla. Stat. §773.01(6)(a)-(e) (1995).
13 Fla. Stat. §773.04(1)(b) (1995).
14 Fla. Stat. §773.04(2) (1995).
15 Fla. Stat. §773.04(1)(b) (1995).
16 This article’s reference to “equine activity sponsor” includes all of the act’s recipients of immunity as defined by Fla. Stat. §773.02 (1995).
17 Horse tack includes the saddle and bridle.
18 Fla. Stat. §773.03(2)(a) (1995).
19 Fla. Stat. §773.03(2)(b) (1995).
20 Fla. Stat. §773.03(2)(d) and (e) (1995).
21 Fla. Stat. §773.03(2)(c) (1995).
22 However, the Fourth District Court of Appeal recently held that the Florida Equine Act cannot be applied retroactively. Dilallov v. Riding Safely, Inc., d/b/a Bar-B-Ranch, 687 So. 2d 353 (Fla. 4th D.C.A. 1997).
23 Muller, 472 S.E.2d at 451.
25 Id. at 450.
26 Id. at 451.
27 Id. at 452.
28 Id. at 454.
29 Id. at 451, 453. The Georgia act, unlike the Florida act, does not provide the equine activity sponsor with the option of either posting a warning sign or having the participant sign a document containing the act’s prescribed warning language. Instead, the Georgia act mandates that the equine activity sponsor post the warning sign “in a clearly visible location on or near stables, corrals, or arenas where the equine professional or the equine activity sponsor conducts equine activities.” Ga. Code Ann. §4-12-4(a).
31 Id. at 452.
32 Id. at 453.
34 Id. at 454.
35 Gaurtreau, 672 So. 2d at 264.
37 Id. at 265.
38 Id. at 266.
41 The Gaurtreau court also rejected the plaintiff’s argument that the defendant could not seek the act’s protection because he had failed to comply with the posting requirement. The court summarily rejected this argument because the act specifically places this requirement on equine activity sponsors and professionals and not participants or any other person. Gaurtreau, 1996 La. App. LEXIS 796, at *14. Similarly, the Florida act’s posting requirement applies only to equine activity sponsors and professionals. Fla. Stat. §773.04(1) (1995).
42 Gaurtreau, 672 So. 2d at 263.
43 Cave, 1995 Tenn. App. LEXIS 560, *2.
44 Id. at *2, *3.
46 Id. at *3.
48 Id. at *7, *8.
49 Id. at *8.
50 Id. at *3, *8.
51 A federal district court in Colorado also examined the tack exception to the act in Day v. Snowmass Stables, Inc., 810 F. Supp. 289 (D. Colo. 1993). The plaintiff was participating in a wagon ride and was thrown from the wagon when a second wagon struck the wagon carrying plaintiff. The incident was caused when the neck-yoke ring on the second wagon broke, causing second wagon’s team to bolt and strike plaintiff’s wagon. The court denied the defendant’s motion for summary judgment. The court reasoned that the defendant was not covered by the act because a genuine issue of material fact existed as to whether the defendant knew or should have known that the neck-yoke ring was faulty.
52 A martingale is a leather strap that is attached to the horses bridle and the girth of the saddle to assist the horse and rider in maintaining proper form while jumping.
53 Easterling at *2.
56 Reihl, 1997 Colo. App. LEXIS 68, at *1.
57 Id. at *2, *3.
59 Id. at *9.
60 Id. at *7.
61 Fla. Stat. §773.03(2)(1995).
62 Fla. Stat. §773.01(6)(a)(1995).
63 Fla. Stat. §773.01(6)(b)(1995); see also Parsons v. Crown Disposal Co., 936 P.2d 70 (Cal. 1997) (recounting history of cases brought where horses were frightened by sights, sounds, and odors).
64 At least one scientific study, however, suggests that there is little correlation between riding experience and the frequency of injury, provided that the rider has at least some experience. David E. Nelson, MD, MPH, Frederick P. Rivara, MD, MPH, Corrine Condie, MD, MPH and Suzanne M. Smith, MD, MPH, Injuries in Equestrian Sports, 20 Physicians & Sportsmedicine 54 (Oct. 1994) (citation omitted). The study’s results included 2,195 respondents that reported riding horses at least six times during the previous year. The study found that the injury rate per 1000 riding hours for riders with less than five years, as well as those with between five and nine years, experience was six tenths of one percent (.6) per thousand, while the rate for those with greater than 10 years experience was four tenths of one percent (.4) per thousand.
65 E.g., DeBoer v. Florida Offroaders Driver’s Ass’n, Inc., 622 So. 2d 1134 (Fla. 5th D.C.A. 1993); Theis v. J & J Racing Promotions, 571 So. 2d 92 (Fla. 2d D.C.A. 1990); Van Tuyn v. Zurich Am. Ins. Co., 447 So. 2d 318 (Fla. 4th D.C.A. 1984); O’Connel v. Walt Disney World Co., 413 So. 2d 444 (Fla. 5th D.C.A. 1982).
66 Cave, 1995 Tenn. App. LEXIS 560 at *7, *8.
67 Fla. Stat. §773.03(2)(b) (1995).
68 Fla. Stat. §773.04(1)(b) (1995).
Marc A. Wites practices law at Homer & Bonner, P.A., in Miami. He received his B.B.A. in 1991 from the University of Michigan and his J.D. from the University of Florida in 1994. His practice areas include the defense and prosecution of class actions, commercial litigation, including banking and commodities litigation, and equine law. He is also an avid equestrian. Mr. Wites gratefully acknowledges the editorial assistance of Jay A. Gayoso of Homer & Bonner.