A calming supplement success story costs a Florida horse owner $300,000. The settlement ends a four-year legal battle over whether a horse owner negligently failed to disclose the truth about her horse’s bad behavior.
Connie Tidwell attributed her horse Buster’s “success secret” to Ex Stress in a testimonial campaign produced by SmartPak. “…he can be a little difficult at times. What a difference it made in him. Ever since he’s been on it, we’ve had nothing but great rides.”
Tidwell’s characterization of Buster in the advertisement conflicted with the information she gave Joni Garvin. Documents state Garvin refused to ride horses with erratic behavior, but was assured by Tidwell, who asked Garvin to ride her horse, that Buster was “a gentleman” and “well trained.”
Garvin’s third ride on Buster left her in the hospital. Documents state she squeezed her legs around the gelding asking the horse to move forward from a stand still. The horse reportedly reared, took off, and dumped her into a fence. Garvin sustained serious injuries including two broken vertebrae in her back.
A lawsuit ensued, but the parties settled in 2010 during mediation.
Soon after, Garvin’s attorney received an anonymous package containing a smoking gun. It was SmartPak’s Spring 2010 Supplement Simplified guide containing Tidwell and Buster’s Ex Stress success story.
Tidwell submitted her testimonial to SmartPak in November 2009. The defendants and their attorney failed to provide the ad to the plaintiff during discovery, despite having it in their possession. Additionally, Buster was on the calming supplement when Garvin rode the horse.
The Fourth District Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s order denying the plaintiff’s motion to rescind the settlement agreement. The case was remanded for further proceedings in 2012.
Tidwell said in her May 2013 deposition she was “upset that somebody at Sand and Spurs chose to basically stab me in the back or do something dirty to me” when they sent the anonymous package containing the SmartPak ad. “It was somebody being very nasty and very ugly out there.”
Note: Connie Tidwell’s daughter, Michelle Richard was a co-defendant in the case. She co-owned Buster and was responsible for his care.