‘You Can’t Predict What a Cow’s Going to Do’

Cattle owners who post an appropriate warning sign would be immune from legal liability if the animals subsequently harm visitors to a farm or livestock sale under a bill also approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday.
“You can’t predict what a cow’s going to do,” said Sen. Ferrell Haile, R-Gallatin, sponsor of the “bovine liability” bill, SB339. “This would take out some unnecessary liability.”
The measure prompted some discussion, but no criticism. Sen. Ophelia Ford, D-Memphis, asked Haile about potential dangerous cow activities and he invited her to his farm, saying “you’ll get a much better experience out there than I can relate to you.”
Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, asked whether enactment of the bill could mean greater liability for a cattleman who fails to post a sign. A legislative attorney said failure to post a sign would mean the cattle owner remains subject to liability as under current law.
“Couldn’t we just say that, if somebody gets kicked by a cow, it’s their own darn fault?” Campfield asked at one point, suggesting that the requirement of a sign for liability be deleted.
Sen. Doug Overbey, R-Maryville, said the sign requirement is warranted, giving people notice that “normal rules do not apply” on liability for a cow’s actions and people can then make a decision on whether to proceed with exposure to the animals.

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