Lawsuit, claim follow collision

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SANDPOINT — Bonner County is being drawn into litigation filed by a Priest River man who collided with a horse while riding a motorcycle on U.S. Highway 2 near Laclede.

John Sedbrook was riding westbound with his daughter, Felicia, as a passenger when they encountered several horses on the highway.

“John Sedbrook attempted to avoid the horses on the road as he traveled by the subject property; however, he was unable to avoid colliding with a horse which caused significant and permanent injury to himself and the passenger. The horse was killed,” Sedbrook’s Spokane attorney, Kathleen Paukert, said in a tort claim filed against the county on June 30.

The claim serves as a notice of intent to sue if damages are not awarded.

The crash occurred at approximately 10:30 p.m. in August 2015. An Idaho State Police vehicle collision report lists a sole contributing circumstance: an animal was in the roadway.

The weather was clear, while the road was straight and dry, according to the ISP report.

John Sedbrook suffered a compound fracture to his upper arm and six broken ribs, in addition to scarring, the tort claim said. Felicia Sedbrook broke a knuckle, and suffered severe scrapes, cuts, bruising and scarring.

Three months prior to filing their claim against the county, the Sedbrooks sued the owners of the property from which the horse had strayed for negligence. A couple who was keeping horses on the property were also named as defendants.

The lawsuit alleges that the parcel is not in an open range area and is regulated by a herd district, which requires fencing to keep livestock and other animals from roaming free.

Counsel for the defendants — identified as Rick Bonser, Marian Wilson and Harley and Katy Philyaw — categorically deny a herd district exists there, according to an answer and counterclaim filed by their attorney, John Finney. The defendants are also disputing the negligence claims and argue that the plaintiffs are at fault for their injuries.

Finney argues Sedbrook was not riding in a reasonably prudent manner and that his daughter may have interfered with the operation of the 2009 Kawasaki, according to the counterclaim, which seeks fair market value compensation for the horse and other related expenses. Moreover, the horse was standing on the edge of the highway when it was struck, the counterclaim said.

In the counterclaim’s cover letter, Finney said he’s reviewed Bonner County records regarding the alleged herd district.

“The county does not have the sufficient records to support the actual lawful adoption and existence of a herd district in the location of the collision,” Finney wrote.

The Idaho Rangeland Resource Commission has no record of a herd district anywhere in Bonner County, according to its online database.

Court documents indicate the Sedbrooks’ counsel plan to move to amend the civil complaint to add Bonner County as a defendant.

Keith Kinnaird can be reached by email at kkinnaird@bonnercountydailybee.com and follow him on Twitter @KeithDailyBee.

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