Lawsuit: T-Lazy 7 horse disfigured Georgia girl
August 12, 2008
ASPEN ” A Georgia family is suing Maroon Bells Lodge and Outfitter, alleging that one of the company’s horses bit and disfigured their daughter in 2006.
While waiting in line for a horse ride at the T-Lazy 7 stables on Aug. 19, 2006, the horse “viciously” bit Olivia Birkholtz in the face, “severing, and tearing completely off, a portion of her left ear,” says the lawsuit by the victim’s parents, Scott Birkholtz and Tiffany Britt. The Alpharetta, Ga., family filed the lawsuit Friday in Pitkin County Court.
The horse was tied to a post in a place designed to encourage guests to interact with the animals, according to the lawsuit, and the girl had been petting other animals when the horse bit her.
The horse that allegedly bit the girl had also bitten other people and was later destroyed, the lawsuit says, but the outfitter later allegedly claimed it had no documentation about where the horse came from, how it was treated or of any prior bite.
The girl’s injuries were serious and painful, causing permanent disfigurement and requiring ongoing medical treatment, the suit says.
Staff at the outfitter said Monday they were aware of the lawsuit but could not comment.
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The company gives horseback-riding lessons, runs rides and holds events from leased stables on the T-Lazy 7 ranch west of Aspen, on the road leading to the Bells.
“As far as I know, it’s still in litigation,” said Dan MacEachen, owner of Maroon Bells Lodge and Outfitters.
The outfitter’s insurance company is handling the matter, and he said he could not comment.
The lawsuit calls for financial compensation for the girl’s injuries, disfigurement and potential economic losses.
The Greenwood Village attorney for Birkholtz, Douglas R. Griess, could not be reached for comment.
The Birkholtzs allege in the suit that the company was negligent in allowing the child to walk near the horse and that outfitter staff created a dangerous condition in the petting area.
The family is asking for a jury trial.