A Las Vegas woman has sued Cliven Bundy after she crashed into one of his cows on Interstate 15.
Danielle Beck was riding in a car that collided with the animal April 14, two days after federal authorities backed down from an armed confrontation with the scofflaw rancher and his supporters in a dispute over unpaid grazing fees, reported the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
The cow was killed, and the 40-year-old Beck suffered broken bones and other injuries when her boyrfiend crashed into the livestock and drove over an embankment about 10 miles from Bundy’s ranch in Bunkerville.
“She’s lucky she lived,” said the woman’s attorney, Bob Apple. “I’ve been practicing since 1975, and I’ve never seen someone with so many broken ribs.”
She filed a lawsuit Sunday in Clark County District Court seeking at least $20,000 for medical expenses, lost income and other damages.
The suit claims Bundy “recklessly, carelessly and negligently allowed his cows to enter onto Interstate 15 through an area where he had no grazing or other rights.”
Beck and her boyfriend, Matthew Zanatta, were driving at about 75 mph shortly after 1 a.m. when they encountered Bundy’s cattle in both lanes on I-15, according to a police report.
The 34-year-old Zanetta was unable to stop quickly enough, and one of the cows rolled onto the roof of the car, police said.
The car then swerved off the road and into a culvert, and the couple was hospitalized.
Police said they herded four other cows back through a hole in the fence, and they said Bundy never showed up after he was contacted by the Nevada Highway Patrol.
Bundy admitted the cow was his, but he said the state is responsible for maintaining the fence that keeps his livestock off the interstate.
“It’s a state problem, it’s not our problem,” Bundy said. “We really feel bad when it happens. We sure don’t want it to happen, but we’re not liable.”
A spokeswoman for the Nevada Department of Transportation said she needed to do more research on the case before commenting.
Beck’s attorney said more defendants could be added to the lawsuit, but he didn’t offer additional information.
Bundy does not have permission from the Bureau of Land Management to graze his cattle on federal land near the crash site, and the government says the rancher owes more than $1 million in unpaid grazing fees and related fines.
The rancher claims the federal government does not have the authority to enforce the grazing regulations, and militia members and other supporters from all over the country have come to his ranch.
Bundy said he was within his rights to make a claim against Beck for the loss of his livestock.
“The person whose car hit that cow is liable to me,” Bundy said.