A pony mom had her first court win when a judge ruled Andre Dignelli’s Heritage Farm and Patricia Griffith will remain defendants in a lawsuit, accused of misrepresenting a sales pony.
Barbara Tichner-Dildabanian alleges the defendants, who were acting as her sales agents, advised her that the welsh gelding named Sports Talk was “sound, healthy, possessed no physical defects, was fit for competitive jumping and was a good investment pony” after a pre-purchase exam. Tichner-Dildabanian purchased the gelding for $175,000. The pony was for her beginner daughter to learn on and compete. Court documents state the dark bay six-year-old was suffering from laminitis.
The defendants claim they did not sell the horse to Tichner-Dildabanian, but fail to address their role as agents. They submitted copies of the bill of sale, which lists Bibby Hill of Florida as the seller, while the pre-purchase exam report lists Lane Change Farm of Virginia as the seller. The defendants argue that the representations regarding the horse’s health and investment prospects are “puffery and opinion,” and cannot form a basis of a fraud claim.
The judge disagreed. “I find that the representations allegedly made by defendants are not puffery and opinion as a matter of law, and therefore Tichner has sufficiently alleged a fraud claim.” The judge also denied the dismissal of negligent misrepresentation and breach of contract.
The judge did throw out three counts including breach of express warranty, breach of implied warranty of merchantability, and breach of implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose. The court has left open the opportunity for the plaintiff to re-plead these causes of action in New York.
Tichner-Dildabanian can file a separate lawsuit against the sellers. That may include Bibby Farmer, Lane Change Farm, Larry Glefke and Kelley Farmer in Florida, for their failure to disclose, since the sales transaction took place in the sunshine state.
The pony mom is also suing Heritage Farm’s veterinarian, Christopher (Kit) Miller, DVM, who completed the pre-purchase exam on the hunter mount. Dr. Miller’s report summary states, “Sound pony. No significant palable or radiographic evidence of wear and tear.”
The plaintiff can notice the case for jury trial once the defendants answer the complaint.