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Resident Equestrian Blames City Worker for Spooked Horse, Injuries

A Laguna Niguel woman has filed a claim with the city of San Juan Capistrano for more than $25,000.

A Laguna Niguel woman says a inattentive city worker spooked her horse while she was riding a trail in San Juan Capistrano, causing the horse to throw her and injuring her greatly.

Through her lawyers, Janelle Robinson, 45, has filed a claim with the city of San Juan Capistrano, often a precursor to a lawsuit, asking for more than $25,000 to reimburse her for her medical costs.

The City Council will consider the claim at its meeting Tuesday. Staff is recommending the council deny it.

Robinson and a friend were riding on a city trail just south of the J.F. Shea Therapeutic Riding Center Nov. 15, 2011 when they noticed a grounds worker up ahead, according to the claim, written by three attorneys from an Aliso Viejo firm, Assanti & Associates. 

They called to the worker, but he did not respond, the complaint states.

“As they got closer, he suddenly appeared from behind the bushes and spooked the horses,” the lawyers wrote. “The horse that Janelle was riding threw her off and fell on top of Janelle.”

Robinson suffered a broken pelvis, hip and arm as well as internal bleeding, according to the claim. Her medical bills total more than $25,000 and are still coming in.

“To the present, it is difficult for Janelle Robinson to move around, she cannot work, or ride horses at this time,” the lawyers wrote.

Robinson contends that the city worker was negligent and may have been wearing headphones or ear protection.

“He should have known that horses use the trail and are easily spooked by sudden movement or loud noises and should have been cautious in his actions,” the claim states.

The council meets at 6 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 32400 Paseo Adelanto in San Juan Capistrano.

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