Legal Question in Consumer Law in California

Can a horse trainer refuse to relinquish my horses for past bill? he is now suing us in small claims and charging a daily fee and refuses give us back the horses. they are valuable animals.

Asked on 12/16/11, 4:51 pm

2 Answers from Attorneys

Timothy McCormick Libris Solutions - Dispute Resolution Services

If the trainer provided board for the horses, which it sounds like he did since he has possession of them, he has a lien on the horses for what you owe. If you dispute the charges, you'll have to prove it in court. If you don't dispute the charges, you best pay the bill or he will ultimately be able to sell them to pay the bill and if they don't bring enough to pay the full bill he will still be able to collect it from you.

Read more
Answered on 12/16/11, 5:22 pm

Mark Saltzman, MBA, JD Law Offices of Mark E. Saltzman

Mr. McCormick is correct, but here is some definite information that could help you.

California Civil Code Section 3080 provides California persons and businesses with an automatic lien on their customersí horses to satisfy debts incurred in caring for or providing services to those horses, such as boarding and health care. This type of lien is sometimes called an agisterís lien, and it means the facility can refuse to allow a customerís horses to leave until the bill for those horses is paid in full.

While the lien is automatic, the ability to sell the horses to satisfy the debt is not. Here are the steps a lienholder must take to be able to sell the horses:

1. Sue the debtor for the past due amount.

2. When filing suit or at any time during the suit, the lien holder can ask the court for an order allowing the lien holder to sell the livestock. This application for an order must contain specific information, as set forth in California Civil Code 3080.03. The lien holder must request a hearing on the application for an order.

3. The lien holder must serve the defendant with a copy of the application for an order to sell the horses and the notice of hearing. The notice of hearing must contain very specific information, as set forth in California Civil Code Section 3080.04.

4. The court will then hold a hearing on the sale issue. The court will issue an order permitting the sale only if all the following conditions are met:

a.The statutory lien applies to the debt at issue;

b. The lien holder has shown the debt is valid;

c. The lien holder has shown the lien is valid;

d. The sale is necessary to prevent the horses from declining in value OR that equitable concerns demand the sale (such as the cost of continuing to feed the horses during the remainder of the lawsuit);

e. The method of sale proposed by the lien holder would be commercially reasonable; AND

f. The lien holder isnít seeking the sale for reasons other than the debt.

Read more
Answered on 12/20/11, 8:59 am

Related Questions & Answers

More Consumer Law questions and answers in California