SHAN deWEY, an individual, Plaintiff, vs. MATHEW GILLISPIE, an individual; TRIPLE AC RANCH, LLC; and DOES 1 through 20, inclusive, Defendants.

Santa Barbara County

No. 1467389
DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL
Plaintiff SHAN de WEY (hereinafter “de Wey” or “Plaintiff’) hereby brings this
Complaint against Defendants MATHEW GILLISPIE (hereinafter “Gillispie”), TRIPLE-AC-
RANCH, LLC (hereinafter “Triple-AC-Ranch”) (collectively, “Defendants”), and DOES 1
through 20, and alleges as follows:
INTRODUCTION
1. This is an action by Plaintiff for the death of two of her horses as well as critical
and serious injuries sustained by five other horses belonging to Plaintiff (all registered
Thoroughbreds, Warmbloods or American Paint Horses) while the animals were being
transported by Defendants from Termo, California to Laveen, Arizona. Plaintiff is a sixth
generation horse trainer, riding instructor, frequent competitor in equestrian events, author of a
book on horses and general horse enthusiast. Plaintiff hired Triple-AC-Ranch to transport her
seven horses exclusively in a trailer to Arizona so she could breed six of her mares and sell one
gelding. While transporting Plaintiff’s horses, Defendants furtively took Plaintiff’s animals on a
dangerous detour from the agreed-upon route for the purpose of secretly and unlawfully adding
and transporting an eighth horse. Defendants acted in spite of the fact that Defendants’ trailer
was only equipped to carry seven horses and Defendants’ repeated assurances and bargained-for
contract that stated Defendants would only be transporting Plaintiff’s horses and that the animals
would be going directly to Arizona from Termo, California. Unbeknownst to Plaintiff, Gillispie
crammed the eighth horse onto an already packed rig putting the illegal eighth horse in a space
designed for storage (not for horses) and already packed with hay and other feed supplies.
Twenty-two (22) hours after Defendants started the trip while en route to deliver the eighth horse
to Santa Barbara, California, Gillispie lost control of his vehicle when trying to maneuver too
fast on a hairpin turn on a windy and treacherous two-lane road. Gillispie’s blunder and
egregious conduct caused the trailer to overturn, violently tossing the animals to the side of the
rig where they landed on their heads and shoulders. Zorlion, one of Plaintiff’s horses who was
situated in the front stall of the trailer, was crushed and killed from the impact and weight of the
other seven horses falling on top of her while another horse, Diamonte Dan, had to be put down
after struggling to get out of the trailer following the accident and suffering severe laceration to
his coffin joint. As a result of the accident, all of Plaintiff’s animals suffered extreme shock,
muscle damage, lacerations, skin abrasions, soft tissue strain and severe weight loss due to
trauma and dehydration, and the scene was horrific with one horse (Diamonte Dan) left dead on
the road while others were still trapped and thrashing around inside the trailer. One horse,
Feather, was so critically injured that she will require extensive rehabilitation as well as skin
grafts to cover exposed bone as all the tendons were shredded on both of her hind legs. Feather
also suffered severe laceration to the left side of her head as well as her left front knee and
fetlock. Another horse, Asia, suffered bleeding from her lungs, scarring and severe injuries to
her knees. The suffering Asia endured was so bad that one veterinarian responder had to hold
her head for two hours so she could breathe properly and be prevented from drowning in her own
blood. Both Feather and Asia will never be able to compete or be shown again due to their
injuries and scarring, and Feather will also never be able to be ridden again. Plaintiff’s three
other horses (Cat, Jamie and Ellie) were also hurt in the accident and suffered severe shock. The
eighth horse, not belonging to Plaintiff, suffered only minor injuries and was able to be walked
from the scene of the crash to a barn nearby where he was scheduled for delivery. In addition to
Gillispie’s recklessness and deception leading up to the accident, it was also discovered that
Gillispie was operating his vehicle and trailer without the proper licenses required by the state of
California and United States Department of Transportation for hauling weight the size of which
he was carrying and for transporting horses across state lines for commercial purposes. Due to
Gillispie’s deception and improprietous acts, Plaintiff has suffered immensely, both emotionally
and financially, and will continue to suffer for the foreseeable future. Since the accident,
Plaintiff has been under a doctor’s care for shock, trauma, anxiety, depression and continued
nightmares. Plaintiff bred and raised five of the seven horses involved in the accident and
considers all of them her family with whom she shares a deep emotional bond. She also relies on
the income received by her horses (which is her sole income aside from social security), both
from foals her mares would have produced and money from equestrian events but for the
accident.
PARTIES
2. Plaintiff SHAN de WEY (“de Wey”) is a female individual who, at all relevant
times herein, resided in the state of California and was the owner of seven horses,
one gelding and six mares, being transported by Defendants.
3. Defendant MATHEW GILLISPIE (“Gillispie”) is a male individual who, at all
relevant times herein, resided in the state of Arizona, was the driver of the vehicle
used to transport Plaintiff’s horses from Termo, California to Laveen, Arizona,
and is the manager of Triple-AC-Ranch.
4. Defendant TRIPLE-AC-RANCH, LLC, (“Triple-AC-Ranch”) is a limited liability
company located in Tonopah, Arizona, that specializes in horse transportation services to most
states in the continental United States and Canada. Triple-AC-Ranch has been in the business of
transporting horses since 2000.
5. Defendants DOES 1 through 20, inclusive, are sued under fictitious names. Their
true names and capacities are unknown to Plaintiff. When their true names and capacities are
ascertained, Plaintiff will amend this complaint by inserting their true names and capacities
herein. Plaintiff is informed and believes and thereon alleges that each of the fictitiously named
Defendants is responsible in some manner for the occurrences herein alleged, and that Plaintiffs
damages as herein alleged were proximately caused by those Defendants.
JURISDICTION
6. This court has jurisdiction over these claims under California Code of Civil
Procedure sections 88, 410.10, and 410.50. Venue in this Court is proper pursuant to section 395
because the acts complained of occurred in Santa Barbara County.
FACTUAL BACKGROUND
7. Prior to the accident that is the subject of this lawsuit, Plaintiff was the owner of
seven horses, one gelding and six mares. She wished to transport all of her horses from
California to Arizona for purposes of breeding some and selling some. Prior to the accident, all
of Plaintiffs horses frequently competed in equestrian shows and all were champions in either
dressage, eventing or hunting. Plaintiff’s mares were also bred regularly and were proven
producers of foals.
8. All but two of Plaintiffs seven horses have been bred and raised by Plaintiff and
have been with Plaintiff all their lives. The other two have been with Plaintiff the majority of
their lives. Plaintiffs horses are considered family to her. Plaintiff was close to each of her
horses and over the years pampered them with love, care and attention.
9. On or about February 19,2014, Plaintiff began discussions with Triple-AC-Ranch
regarding the transport of her horses from her ranch in Termo, California, to Laveen, Arizona,
with a date of arrival scheduled for March 28,2014.
10. On or about March 17, 2014, Plaintiff entered into a written contract with Triple-
AC-Ranch in which Triple-AC-Ranch agreed to transport seven of Plaintiff’s horses from
Termo, California to Laveen, Arizona. Nowhere in the written contract was it mentioned, stated
or agreed to that Defendants would be carting and transporting horses other than those that
belonged to Plaintiff Plaintiff was led to believe the opposite.
11. In addition to the written contract between Plaintiff and Triple-AC-Ranch,
representatives of Triple-AC-Ranch, including Gillispie, had repeated conversations with
Plaintiff whereby Plaintiff was verbally assured of the route to be taken, which was via the state
of Nevada upon reaching Reno (five hundred and twelve miles (512)) north of Santa Barbara
where the wreck occurred) and that entailed approximately eighteen hours of driving time, in
addition to the fact that Plaintiffs horses were to be the only horses on the trailer during their
transport to Arizona.
12. Prior to the scheduled transportation, Plaintiff obtained health certificates for each
of her seven horses. Plaintiffs horses were in excellent weight and condition prior to being
picked up by Defendants.
13. Because of Plaintiffs extensive experience in transporting her horses across the
country for various equestrian shows and competitions, all of Plaintiff’s horses had traveled
extensively and none had prior trailer problems when traveling.
14. On or about March 27, 2014, at around 7:30a.m. Gillispie picked up Plaintiffs
seven horses from Plaintiff’s ranch in Termo, California. During the loading of the horses onto
the trailer, Plaintiff again discussed the planned route with Gillispie. Gillispie assured Plaintiff
that her horses were going directly to Arizona via Nevada where they were scheduled to arrive
the following evening before dark after a trip that would take approximately thirty-six hours.
During this conversation, Gillispie never mentioned plans to make a detour from the promised
route to stop in Madera, California, to pick up an eighth horse, or to make a second detour to
drop off the eighth horse in Santa Barbara, California, which is four hundred and seventy-six
miles ( 476) northwest of Plaintiffs horses’ destination in Laveen, Arizona.
15. The trailer which Defendants used to transport Plaintiffs horses was a seven-
horse trailer and was not equipped to carry eight horses. Plaintiff saw this as the horses were
being loaded- the trailer had only seven stalls and seven windows for ventilation. Once
Plaintiffs horses were loaded onto the trailer, the only thing separating the last mare and the
trailer doors were a few bales of hay, grain and food supplements (rice bran, beet pulp and
probiotics) in a space not designed, or suitable, for carrying a horse. The trailer was packed full,
so much so that Gillispie had difficulty closing and securing the trailer doors after the horses
were loaded in the seven stalls and the storage area was crammed with feed supplies.
16. Upon information and belief, on or about March 27, 2014, at around 4:30 p.m.,
after picking up Plaintiffs horses and while en route to Arizona, Defendants picked up an
additional horse near Madera, California. Again, Plaintiff was unaware that Defendants had
plans to pick up the eighth horse in Madera since Plaintiffs contract as well as Plaintiffs
repeated discussions with Triple-AC-Ranch and Gillispie and her visual inspection of the full
seven-horse trailer contemplated and confirmed the transportation of her horses only, and the
planned route came nowhere near Madera.
Read the rest of the complaint below

View the Complaint 

April 2018 case management conference scheduled

 

Suit: Horse Transporter’s Egregious Conduct Leaves Horses Dead, Injured