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Deering woman injured at North Haverhill Fair horse pulling event sues owners, organizers

Union Leader Correspondent

April 23. 2018 3:03PM
The grounds of the North Haverhill Fair, shown on April 17. A Deering woman who attended the 2017 fair recently filed suit against the fair association and a couple from Deerfield alleging she was seriously injured when a team of improperly-hitched horses crashed into her during a sled-pull event. (John Koziol/Union Leader Correspondent)

NORTH HAVERHILL — A Deering woman is suing the North Haverhill Fair and two people with an entry in last year’s sled pull event for negligence, alleging that she was seriously injured when a team of horses crashed into her.

The lawsuit filed earlier this month in Rockingham Superior Court on behalf of Tammy Soule and her husband Eric names the North Haverhill Fair Association as well as Bonni Bolduc McPherson and Keith Bergeron, both of Deerfield, as defendants and asks the court for a jury trial.

The three-count lawsuit alleges that on July 29, 2017, Tammy Soule was at the fair to observe the horse-pull event when a team of horses led by Bergeron “proceeded at a full-speed uncontrolled run toward the far opposite end of the arena where Tammy was sitting” because Bergeron had “not ensured that the sled was properly attached to the team.”

Soule was thrown into the air from the force of the collision with the horses, which the lawsuit described as “massive.” Knocked unconscious and suffering numerous injuries, the suit claims, she was airlifted from the fair to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.

Soule spent five days at Dartmouth-Hitchcock, where she was treated for multiple rib fractures, a broken collarbone and two brain hemorrhages. She had a lung contusion and contusions to her lower back and pelvis, according to the suit.

Soule suffered from complications, the lawsuit asserts, including “post-traumatic stress, anxiety, muscle weakness, aches, sleep impairment, difficulty doing daily tasks and limited range of motion.”

Soule was unable to work for “significant period of time during her recovery as she was largely immobile,” the lawsuit said, and Eric Soule suffered “loss of his wife’s consortium” during her recovery.

William Pribis, attorney for the Soules, is seeking a judgement that includes “enhanced compensatory damage and such other and further relief that this court deems just and proper under the circumstances”, as well as court costs and legal expenses.

The lawsuit says the horses that collided with Soule are owned by either Bergeron or Bolduc McPherson, who are identified in the lawsuit as boyfriend and girlfriend. It alleges that Bergeron “was drinking alcohol on the morning of the 29th and shortly prior to participating…” in the horse pull, adding that he was intoxicated when it occurred.

“A properly prepared, trained and sober driver should have been able, through the use of reins” to control the horse team and prevent them from running into the stands, the lawsuit states.

The fair association is cited for allegedly failing to warn the public about the dangers of spectator seating at the horse-pull event; to arrange seating so as to not endanger spectators; to “supervise its competitors and inspect horse-pull equipment”; and to operate the fair with safeguards “so that other attendees and spectators, including Tammy, would not be injured.”

Bolduc McPherson, the lawsuit alleges, had a duty to use “reasonable care to supervise her team of horses and not entrust her horses to any driver who lacked the skills or ability to safely and completely guide the horse through a horse-pull competition” so that no one is injured. She also had a responsibility, the lawsuit continued, “to ensure that the driver of her horse team is not impaired.”

The lawsuit also states Bergeron had a responsibility to operate the team in a safe manner, but didn’t and given his “reckless conduct,” Soule is entitled to enhanced damages.

Neither Bolduc McPherson nor Bergeron were available but a representative for the North Haverhill Association said in an April 20 email that “we have referred this to our insurance company.”

According to the website GoFundMe, Bolduc McPherson created the Tammy Durgin Soule Recovery Fund on Aug. 1, 2017. As of Sunday the fund had raised $2,115 of a $5,000 goal.

Courts General News North Haverhill

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