Family Sues Over Eventing Tragedy

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The AP reported the parents of a girl who passed due to injuries are suing her trainer

According to the Associated Press, the parents of a 17-year-old girl who died during the 2006 Galway Downs International Three-Day Event and Horse Trials in Temecula, Calif., after she fell from her horse during the cross-country phase of the event, are suing the girl’s former trainer, the United States Eventing Association and the United States Equestrian Federation.

Mia Eriksson died during the event after her 7-year-old horse, Koryography, landed on her during a fall. The parents claim their daughter’s death was caused in part by a dangerous course and a horse unfit to ride, according to the report. The suit, filed May 6, 2008, alleges negligence, emotional distress and seeks unspecified damages.

According to the Associated Press report, the lawsuit claims the course “was made more dangerous in order to make the competition more thrilling to spectators;” equipment used on the course was defective; the standards of care to protect riders and horses were breached; and that Koryography was unfit to ride because of prior falls and lack of practice.

“I stepped forward to file a lawsuit trying to voice in a way all of the concerns we’re feeling at the level of eventing to press for change,” Mia’s mother, Karan Eriksson, told The New York Times.

In a strange twist of fate, Mia’s older sister, Shana, died in 2003 after she was thrown from her horse at Fresno State University.

15 COMMENTS

  1. yeah that would be sad but accidents happen, especially when you are dealing with horses. You have to know that if you are getting into equestrian sports. If the parents had a problem with it then have your kids stop riding dont sue someone! Im very sorry for the parents of Mia but you have to know that accidents happen and God has a plan for everyone wether you know it or not. Ill pray for Mia’s family 🙂

  2. I totally agreee with Erin. Accidents do happen and the law in MO is that Equine prefessionals are not liable for the death or serious injury to a participent- thus, participents should be aware of what they are getting into when becomming an equestrian. Good example: the farm where I keep my mare is a cattle ranch, it has the supplies and space we need for efficient horse activities but there is no arena or trainers or horse professionals on hand. If I had a crash because I was jumping my mare there and let’s just say I died, it would be so wrong for my family to sue the family because firstly, if it was anyone’s fault it would be my own, and second, no one can control fate. Jeez, this is a really dumb argument. I have a small suspicion that this could most possibly be a money scandal! [well der!]

  3. I don’t think suing is the answer! I think that things happen on courses everyday and that it is part of the risk of riding….

  4. people die from eventing its going to happen. Its soooo dangerious but i do it people fall and get hurt. someone just got kicked in the head at the barn i ride at. my horse broke i kids arm. sorry but you should live with it and not sue over it. and the trainer dident do anything.

  5. I attended the Event at Galway Downs (as a spectator) the day before this tragedy happened. My sister and I spent nearly the entire day watching the cross country course. I’m not an eventing or cross country expert, but I’ve been riding for about two decades and I thought that the event was safe and well run. The facilities were well-kept and there was staff all over the place making sure things ran smoothly. Moreover, in the multiple hours my sister and I spent observing the cross country course, we never saw a horse fall (a few refused the jumps and more than one rider fell off that way, or when a horse spooked or bucked), but nothing that I would have ever considered to be the fault of the facilities or course design.
    As far as suing the trainer goes – I think that that is ridiculous. Horses are inherently dangerous and on top of that, cross country is one of the more dangerous sports you can engage in. It was the parent’s responsibility to educate themselves about the dangers inherent in the sport and about what makes a safe mount for their child. Any parent who relies solely on one trainer’s opinion isn’t being wise. And a seven year old eventer is undeniably a GREEN horse. Sure, some very experienced and talented 17 year olds can handle a green, hot, or nervous horse over a course, and who knows, Mia Eriksson might well have been one of them. But it was ultimately her parent’s responsibility to evaluate her ability and accept/assume the risk to her safety. If they really believed that the horse was “unfit to ride” then they shouldn’t have signed the liability release form that they HAD to have signed for her to have been able to compete.
    I have a lot of sympathy for the parents, and it really was a tragedy that she died. But I think that this is a case of the grieving parents trying to alleviate their pain by filing a lawsuit. It’s all very sad.

  6. Being involved with horses and being a mother too….if i felt that my daughters horse was unfit to ride, and/or the course was dangerous and not safty minded for either horse or rider…then i would not let my 17 yr old daughter ride! i would pull her and that would be that! especially after losing another daughter a couple yrs earlier! seems this mom dosen’t have any control over her kids, or she is just plain stupid! i feel bad for the horse!

  7. I’m not sure if I agree with this or not. It depends on if what the parents saying about the horse and the course are true or not. I really don’t believe in legal actions. When it is your time to go…..you go.

  8. I heard she was told to get off the course immediately and she kept going and that is when this accident happened. So my opinion is if someone screams get out of the house and you ignore them and the house catches fire and you die, then you have no right to sue. I believe parents sue in cases like this because they feel it is a way of defending their childs legacy and also maybe they feel a little guilty.

  9. I have read articles about the rise in the number of deaths during equine sports in the last several years, and it is suspected that riders with the least experiance, a couple of years vs a couple of decades are most at risk.
    It does not sound like the girl should have been competeing in the first place. All equine sports are dangerous.
    I will have to say the parents are responsable for their lack of judgement and if the course was substandered it should be noted as well. I hope that more of these needless deaths can be prevented!

  10. It is the law that your instructor, or anyone involved with your equine activities, is not responsible for someone getting hurt on horses. I dont think she can sue someone. If it was the safest horse in the world, the horse could have tripped and she would have called the poor animal dangerous. I ride horses and love to jump, and hope to ride in courses like Mia when I’m older, and I sure hope nobody would sue if I died. I even have a copy of the Florida equine law:
    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.
    (This is copied straight off the law, not a word changed).
    So there it is, clear as day that she is absolutly NOT allowed sue anyone in this case. If she doesnt think horses are safe, then she shouldnt have let her daughters ride.

  11. I would say ‘unbelievable’, but it is believable. I think that the parents have no right to sue anyone. If anything, it was their fault fr allowing her to ride on a horse and course that they deemed to be dangerous. It is not the trainer’s fault, the USEA’s, or the USEF’s fault. It was an accident, and yes it was dangerous, 3DE is always dangerous. I think the judge has/will throw it out. And Erika, you’re quoting Florida law, not necessarily California law, so that is irrelevant.

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