Jury Awards $7.8 Million to Family in On-Track Death of Jockey
By Dean I. Weitzman, Esq. on April 11th, 2014
The family of a 55-year-old professional jockey who died in an on-track training incident at the Parx Racing track in Bensalem in 2010 has been awarded $7.8 million in damages by a Philadelphia Common Pleas Court jury.
The verdict in favor of the family of the late jockey, Mario Calderon of Croydon, Bucks County, was reported in an April 10 story in The Philadelphia Daily News.
Calderon was killed in May 2010 as he was exercising a horse, Cassidy Blue, on the track when the animal was startled by a free-roaming chicken which spread its wings near the track’s outer rail, according to the story.
“The lawsuit claimed that Parx created an unsafe work environment by letting chickens roam free on the racetrack, even though a jockey previously had been injured when a chicken frightened his horse,” the story reported. “The chickens had been brought there many years earlier by horse owners and trainers.”
Calderon was thrown from the horse, but “his foot got stuck in a stirrup and he then was dragged upside down, while the horse repeatedly kicked him in the chest, for about 40 seconds, according to the lawsuit.” He suffered 11 broken ribs and a bleed on his brain due to the incident at the former Philadelphia park facility.
The jury’s award included $5 million in punitive damages, according to the Daily News story.
“The jury forced Parx to do what Parx refused to do on its own: take responsibility for the tragic and very preventable death of a long-time jockey and loving husband and father,” the family’s attorney told the paper. “I’m hopeful that Parx will now get the message that the safety of jockeys and others on its premises is paramount to everything else, including profits from gambling.”
Calderon, who was married and had two children, had worked as a jockey for more than 30 years, the paper reported.
The plaintiff’s attorneys “found evidence as recently as 2011 that chickens continued to roam free on the Parx property including the racetrack” and never removed, according to an April 10 story in The Bucks County Courier Times.
Parx management “had knowledge in the months and years prior (to the accident) they were there,” the attorney told the paper. “They knew it presented a dangerous condition. It should have never happened.”
Injuries occur every day to innocent victims who are harmed through no fault of their own due to the actions or indifference of others. That’s why it is critical to have a legal team on your side that uncovers every fact to bolster your case and maximize your damage award.
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