Cattle guard lawsuit dismissed

By Thomas Garcia: Quay County Sun

A lawsuit against Quay County over cattle guards was dismissed Thursday in 10th Judicial District Court, according to court reports.

“In my opinion, this is a frivolous lawsuit that is costing the county tax payers,” said Quay County Commission Chairman Franklin McCasland on Monday.

McCasland said the case brought against Quay County by Lee and Dusty Stone revolves around the removal of seven cattle guards.

“The county has paid $40,770 in legal fees through risk management for this case,” McCasland said. “The Stones are representing themselves and do not have to pay attorney fees.”

Recently Lee and Dusty Stone blamed the cattle guard for an injury to a horse they said had to be destroyed Feb. 4.

Dusty Stone said the horse tried to jump the cattle guard and got its front leg stuck between bars, breaking the animal’s leg. He said the horse had been promised to his daughter Mekenna Stone.

Attempts to reach the Stones for comment were not successful.

“I am sorry that the horse had to be put down,” McCasland said. “But that cattle guard did what is was meant to do.”

McCasland said he does not mean to sound harsh or cold hearted. He said the guards are used on federal and state land and all 33 counties in New Mexico to control livestock.

“If that cattle guard had not been there then the horse could have gone east to 469 or south to I-40,” McCasland said. “We could have been burying a family rather then putting a horse down.”

McCasland said last year a teenage boy was killed in Luna County when he hit a horse on a county road.

New Mexico State Police confirmed that Sept. 1, 2009, they responded to a single vehicle crash on the northbound lane of Over Hill Road in Luna County. Police said Ramon A. Pena, 18, of Deming was driving a 1995 Chevy S-10 pick-up, struck a horse losing control and rolling the vehicle several times. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police said the horse also died because of the impact.

In October 2009 the same case filed by Dusty Stone was dismissed by State District Judge Abigail Aragon.

“This is a matter that the county would like to put behind them and move forward,” said Richard Primrose, Quay County Manager.

Primrose said the commission has made every effort to accommodate Lee and Dusty Stone.

“Swinging metal gates were installed and one of the cattle guards can be taken apart so they can move their heavy equipment through,” McCasland said.

McCasland said the dispute began when Robin Smith asked the commission to install a cattle guard on his property which borders Lee’s.

“Robin provided the cattle guard and wanted it installed,” McCasland said. “He owns the property on both sides of the road. It gave his livestock access to both sides of the road.”

McCasland said the other cattle guards had been installed before he was on the commission.

“Five of those cattle guards have been for 40-to-50 years,” McCasland said.