Category Archives: Landowner Liability

Texas Supreme Court Holds Farm Animal Liability Act Inapplicable to Ranchers & Ranch Hands

The Texas Supreme Court issued a divided opinion on a case involving the death of a ranch employee and determined the Farm Animal Liability Act does not apply to “ranchers and ranch hands.”  This interpretation limits the scope of the Act and is important for livestock owners to be aware of. [Read full opinion here.] Background The Waaks raise Charolais cattle in Fayette County.  In 2005, they hired Raul Zuniga to work part time with the cattle, landscaping, and cutting hay.  In 2008, he began working full-time for… Read More →

So Many New Opinions!

Over the last month, there have been a large number of agricultural-related opinions released here in Texas.  I plan to blog on each of these individually, but many of you have asked for some basic information about several of the opinions.  Today, I will be giving brief summaries of the cases and links to read the full opinions for those of you who may be interested in doing so.  Stay tuned over the next couple of months to see much deeper dives into the decisions in each of… Read More →

50-State Survey: Liability for Pesticide Drift

Landowners who apply or contract for the application of pesticide may have concern over their potential liability should pesticide drift occur and cause damage to neighboring crops. Generally, lawsuits related to drift sound in negligence. However, there are two additional potential claims that may arise in these cases of which landowners should be aware.  Hannes Zetzsche, a third-year law student at the University of Nebraska, and I recently co-authored an article on liability for pesticide drift.  In particular, the article looks at two important questions and offers the… Read More →

Texas Supreme Court Ruling in Spider Bite Case Important for Rural Landowners

The Texas Supreme Court recently issued an opinion in a case involving a spider bite.  That may sound strange, but it is an important case for rural landowners when it comes to liability for injuries caused by wild animals. Background Mr. Hillis owns a bed and breakfast in Fredericksburg that he uses mostly for weekend rentals.  He also owns a cabin on the property.  Hillis leased the cabin to Mr. McCall and McCall offered to “open up” the bed and breakfast building for guests and others needing access… Read More →

Landowner Liability Protection Resources

One of my favorite topics is landowner liability protections.  This is an area of the law where landowners can take affordable steps before any incident occurs to protect themselves, their operations, and their livelihood. Here are some of my favorite resources related to landowner liability protection. I put together a Fact Sheet on “How Landowners Can Protect Themselves from Liability.”  Click here to download. I recorded an episode of Ag Law Today with Cari Rincker on this very topic.  Click here to view. I’ve done blog posts on… Read More →

Will Texas Courts Enforce Liability Waivers Signed on Behalf of Minor Children?

For landowners who allow minor children to come onto their property and partake in activities like hunting, swimming, fishing, or riding ATVs, there is an interesting question that remains unanswered by the Texas Supreme Court: Are liability waivers signed by a parent on behalf of a minor child enforceable in Texas? The Texas Supreme Court has never directly addressed this issue.  There are however, a handful of lower court cases indicating these waivers may not be enforceable. Background Landowners who allow minor children to come onto their property… Read More →

Is Owner Liable for Injury Caused by Lamby the Guard Sheep?

Is the owner of a “guard sheep” named Lamby liable for injuries to a person allegedly headbutted by the sheep?  Let’s take a look at Gonzalez v. Ahrens, a recent case from the Houston (14th) Court of Appeals. Background Mr. Ahrens owns a farm near Yoakum, TX and has a number of species of livestock.  He kept one sheep that he raised as a bottle lamb, named Lamby as his pet and “guard sheep” due to prior break ins. Lamby slept in the house and was friendly, but… Read More →

March 8, 2019 Weekly Round Up

Hello and happy Friday!  We’re back with another weekly round up of the top agricultural law stories of the past two weeks. * North Carolina nuisance ruling appealed. Plaintiffs in the first North Carolina hog farm nuisance lawsuit have filed an appeal with the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.  A number of agricultural groups, including the American and North Carolina Farm Bureau have filed an amicus brief on behalf of the plaintiffs arguing that the North Carolina Right to Farm law should have applied as… Read More →

Texas Case Offers Good Analysis of Enforceability of Liability Release

One way that Texas landowners can protect themselves from liability is to ensure that guests sign liability waivers before engaging in certain activities.  For example, oftentimes hunters that plan to hunt on the property of another are asked to sign a liability waiver (also called a release of liability).  A recent Texas case, Quiroz v. Jumpstreet8, Inc., the court addressed whether a liability waiver was valid when a plaintiff was injured at a trampoline park.  The court addressed several issues, including the question of whether a release can… Read More →

Questions from Tiffany’s Desk: Where Can I Get Those Agritourism Act Signs?

Question:  Where can I get those Agritourism Act signs? Answer: Since the Texas Agritourism Act was passed by the Legislature back in 2015, I’ve been traveling the state talking to landowners about the limited liability protections this statute offers to them. [Click here for more background on this statute.] One way to receive this limited liability is for a landowner to hang up a specific Texas Agritourism Act sign on his or her property.  The sign must be hung at a place clearly visible at or near where the… Read More →