Settlement reached in rodeo injury claim

GRANDVIEW - In a deal reached late last month, a Prosser man will receive $100,000 in a settlement for injuries he said he sustained during a rodeo held at Grandview's Country Park fairgrounds in May 2004.

Michael Stice and his attorney, Yakima-based Mariano Morales Jr., first filed the suit in Benton County Superior Court on Jan. 12, 2006. The suit claimed that Stice was gored by a bull during the rodeo, put on by Moon Broadcasting of Prosser.

Morales Jr. contended that the fair and rodeo grounds did not have the proper metal enclosure the bulls are kept in after a ride. He explained once in the restricted enclosure, which he called a "stripping shoot", the bulls are supposed to be unbuckled, then turned loose into another secure area.

The claim stated that Stice suffered a fractured right arm, a fractured left leg and bruises to his abdomen and chest as a result of the incident.

Parties named in the original claim included the city of Grandview, Moon Broadcasting and the Yakima Valley Fair and Rodeo organization.

The entire Country Park complex is owned by the city, which has a 50-year lease with the Yakima Valley Fair and Rodeo Association to operate a 3.6-acre portion of the grounds.

The city was later dropped from the lawsuit.

In the settlement agreement, Moon Broadcasting's insurer, the Scottsdale Insurance Company, agrees to pay Stice $100,000.

According to the agreement, the fair and rodeo organization will also pay Scottsdale $1,000.

According to the settlement, the insurance company declined to defend the Yakima Valley Fair and Rodeo Association in the Stice action because it is Scottsdale's position that the group is not a named insured or an additional insured under the policy. The fair and rodeo group disputes Scottsdale's position and contends that it is an additional insured under the Scottsdale policy.

Still, a settlement to pay $1,000 is a far cry from a worst case scenario the fair board envisioned when the claim was first filed.

Mike Bradshaw, then the fair and rodeo association president, said at the time the claim was first filed that a potential trial could ruin the organization.

"Even if we win, the legal fees can mount quickly, particularly in a situation like this," Bradshaw contended at the time. "If it goes very far it could very well bankrupt the fair organization."

Neither Bradshaw or the fair and rodeo association could be reached for comment on the settlement.

Grandview City Administrator Scott Staples had little to add on the settlement.

"Our focus was obviously the city's interests," he said. "The city was dropped (from the suit) and we haven't been involved with what the others have agreed to."


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