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Hodgson Russ provides legal counsel to owners, breeders, trainers, and businesses in the equine industry. Our attorneys’ knowledge of the equine industry, combined with our experience in all major areas of U.S. law, make Hodgson Russ particularly adept at protecting the diverse needs of the equine professional, owner, and business. Our representation includes equine-related advice and representation on litigation and dispute resolution, contracts, financing and corporate transactions, real estate acquisition and leasing, zoning, employment issues and immigration, estates and trusts, and tax planning.

Our practice spans the many aspects of equine law, including the following:

Equine Litigation. Our multidisciplinary team handles every aspect of litigation that may arise in the equine industry. Our team has experience litigating and settling horseback riding accident and negligence claims, agency issues, sales and ownership disputes, and contractual claims.

Equine Contracts and Releases. Our attorneys are available to assist clients with negotiating and drafting equine contracts, including boarding agreements, breeding contracts, purchase and sale agreements, commission agreements, and liability releases and waivers.

Equine Liens. Our team has assisted equine boarding and training stables with issues related to nonpaying boarders, including negotiating payment of outstanding fees, obtaining and enforcing equine liens (also known as horse liens, agister’s liens, and stablekeeper’s liens), and coordinating the transfer of registry papers.

Racing. Our attorneys regularly represent owners of racetracks in regulatory matters before state gaming commissions and in negotiations with off-track betting facilities.

Tax Planning/Dispute Resolution. Our attorneys are well versed in New York State and New York City tax issues, as well as multistate, international, and cross-border tax matters. From planning and compliance to litigation and damage control, our team provides legal solutions specifically tailored to meet our clients’ complex requirements. Our specialized team of attorneys assists clients on the tax implications of their equine operations, including minimizing corporate and/or personal income tax consequences, navigating the often complex sales and use tax rules specific to the equine industry, and handling tax audits and other tax-related disputes. 

Estates and Trusts. Our team provides sound legal advice and insight to help provide for your horses’ uninterrupted and continuous care if they outlive you. Our attorneys are highly skilled in dealing with all estate planning tools, including complex equine trusts. We advise clients on all aspects of planning, administration, settlement, and taxation of estates and trusts. 

Corporate Advice. Our multidisciplinary team regularly advises start-up and existing companies at every stage of their evolution and on a full spectrum of their legal issues. Our team advises clients on the formation of the appropriate structure for their equine operations, as well as issues related to capitalization, contractual agreements, labor and employment, and regulatory issues.  

Immigration. Attorneys in Hodgson Russ’s Immigration Practice are skilled in handling a broad range of immigration issues for businesses and individuals. Our team is available to assist clients with obtaining appropriate work authorization and immigration status for professionals and individuals engaged in a variety of equine-related businesses and professions. Our clients include equestrian athletes, trainers, grooms, veterinarians, equine dentists, farriers, saddle fitters, lecturers in equine health, breeding stables, professional equine associations, and owners and employees of many types of businesses in the equine field. Our attorneys have substantial experience filing a broad range of petitions and applications for non-immigrant and immigrant visas (green cards) with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Temporary visa classifications for our equine-related business clients include the O-1, O-2, P-1, E-1, E-2, TN, B-1, and H-1B categories. In addition, our immigration services include counseling U.S. employers on all aspects of employment eligibility and verification and related unlawful discrimination practice.

Zoning and Agricultural Land Use. Hodgson Russ’s Land Use & Economic Development Practice attorneys can help stable owners and veterinarians obtain appropriate land use permits and approvals needed to develop property for their horses or treatment of horses, ensuring compliance with all applicable local, state, and federal laws. We have experience helping owners and those tending horses with securing and maintaining suitable property. Our team handles all aspects of site development, including zoning variances, special and other land-use permits, tax abatements, and economic development initiatives. Our attorneys also provide strategic counsel related to purchase and financing of undeveloped land, transfer of development rights, and planning for future expansion.

Industry Experience

Melissa Subjeck, the firm’s lead equine law partner, is a longtime owner, breeder, and rider of national champion horses. Melissa’s horses have garnered championships at the United States and Canadian Arabian and Half Arabian Championship Horse Shows, the prestigious Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show, and many regional and class A horse shows throughout the country. She is frequently resident in our Saratoga Springs and New York, New York offices.

Robert J. McLaughlin, the firm’s lead gaming partner, is a former chief executive officer, director, and general counsel at the New York Lottery, where he oversaw the regulatory development of the nation’s first finite-pool video lottery gaming system as well as the implementation of eight video lottery gaming facilities across the state. Bob also led the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries committee on reviewing a multibillion-dollar merger that created one of the world’s leading gaming solutions providers. Bob previously served as director of the worldwide gaming consulting group at Grant Thornton LLP.

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