Shannon Jackson was injured while driving her car on a farm-to-market road when her vehicle hit and killed a horse
Shannon Jackson was injured while driving her car on a farm-to-market road when her vehicle hit and killed a horse named Tiny that was standing in the road. The force of the collision severely damaged her vehicle, which was totaled. Jackson brought a negligence suit against Tiny’s owner, Naomi Gibbs, for failing to prevent Tiny from wandering onto the road. Gibbs defended by saying she owed Jackson no duty on a farm-to-market road that was within a “free-range” area. The trial court rejected the defense, and a jury found the defendant negligent and liable for damages of $7,000. The state intermediate appeals court affirmed the trial court, ruling that although there was no statutory duty to keep Tiny off the road, the court recognized a common law duty “to keep domestic livestock from roaming at large on public roads.” This was a case of first impression before the state supreme court. Texas courts prior to this case had rejected the English common law rule imposing a duty on the owner of a domestic animal to prevent it from trespassing on a neighbor’s property. English common law imposed no corresponding duty to keep an animal from wandering onto a public road unless the animal had “vicious propensities.” In light of the above, Texas law generally permitted healthy, non vicious animals to roam freely, a condition associated with “free range” jurisdictions. An exception to the free-range law was statutorily recognized where a “local stock law” was enacted to keep animals off of a state highway. What arguments might be made supporting and opposing the new common law rule recognized by the intermediate court of appeals?
The state intermediate court of appeals argued that the owners of domestic livestock had a common law duty to prevent their animals from roaming at la…View the full answer
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