Lawsuit filed by woman who struck cow, claims county left fence in disrepair

Albuquerque News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Bernalillo County is getting sued over a stretch of road where drivers keep hitting cows. While the lawsuit says ranchers are not responsible for livestock that wander onto the road, the driver who filled the suit claims these crashes could be prevented.

A woman is now suing Bernalillo County, Western Albuquerque Land Holdings LLC and Garrett Development Corporations after a crash that took place when she struck a cow on Shelly Drive just outside the Bernalillo Metropolitan Detention Center in 2019. The suit claims the county and the landowners are responsible for the upkeep of the fencing along the highway that should prevent cattle from crossing the road as well as grazing along the highway.


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This isn’t the first time there has been an accident along that stretch of road in recent years involving livestock. Within the last four years, there have been eight ‘motorists versus cow’ accidents along Shelly Drive. New Mexico does have a fence outlaw that allows for cattle free-range so long as the person or property that doesn’t want them there to place fencing. That also goes for the county for not wanting the cattle to roam onto the road.

“If they can understand it and if they can maintain their livestock in a manner in which they cannot be a nuisance to the community or their neighbor. I don’t want to fix anything that in some case may not be broken just because it may be a little bit ambiguous,” said New Mexico Representative of District 65, Derrick Lente (D-Sandia Pueblo).

The driver who filed the suit was injured in the crash and her car was heavily damaged.

A recent amendment to that free-range law requires the New Mexico Department of Transportation to take measures to keep livestock off state highways but it does not mandate anything for city or county roads. Bernalillo county declined to comment on the lawsuit.

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