Failing to Use Florida’s Equine Lien Laws Could Come with a High Price

Several months ago, I wrote a post regarding Florida’s equine lien law, which favors equine caregivers. By way of follow-up, I wanted to explain the possible consequences of failing to take advantage of the protections of Florida Statutes Chapter 713, Part II.

The statute  very much favors those providing care for an equine on behalf of another. In the event a boarder fails to pay for services, there are specific procedures for you to follow in determining how to proceed while still in possession of the horse. However, if you fail to follow the procedures and deadlines set forth in the statute, you may have effectively waived your right to sell the horse and mitigate damages.

In the recent case of Schoenholz v. Hinzman, 289 P.3d 1155 (Kan. 2012); 333 P.3d 2014 (Kan. App. 2014), the parties arranged for Heinzman to maintain the horses on behalf of Schoenholz, however, Schoenholz left the horses on the property after the parties had a falling out and Heinzman requested the horses be removed. Several years later, Heinzman sold the horses and the farm. Schoenholz sued Heinzman for conversion (theft) of the horses and the court sided with Schoenholz on the basis that Kansas had an equine lien statute which Heinzman did not follow. Even though she acted in good faith in caring for the horses and selling them, the act of selling the horses still counted as  a conversion.

Even though this case is not binding in Florida, it shows what can happen if you care for horses and fail to follow the procedures set forth in Florida’s equine lien statute. Essentially, if a horse owner stops paying for services but you fail to follow the statute and later try to sell the horse, the owner can pursue claims of theft against you. If you are in doubt as to how to proceed under Florida’s equine lien statute, you should contact a qualified attorney.

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