Judge upholds $7.8 million jury award for killed horse jockey

By Jim Boyle | Aug 22, 2014

A Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas judge denied a motion for post-trial relief by Parx

Casino, saying that a $7.8 million award to the family of a racehorse jockey killed in 2010 will stand.

Judge Albert J. Snite, Jr. ruled against Parx's objections over the use of photographs by the plaintiffs which showed that chickens had been able to access the racetrack. The defense said the photos were inadmissible because they were not relevant to the case, and they were prejudicial to the jury.

The award to the family of the late Mario Calderon consists of more than $2 million in compensatory damages and a hefty $5 million in punitive damages.

The civil complaint, which was filed in the spring of 2012, accused Philadelphia Park Casino and Racetrack, which is now known as Parx Casino, of negligence for allowing chickens to roam free on the racetrack despite the fact that the act had previously caused another horse to spook and injure its rider.

Calderon, a 55-year-old married father of two who raced horses for more than three decades, was catastrophically injured when his horse, Cassidy Blue, was spooked by the chickens and threw him to the ground.

Calderon, the lawsuit said, ended up getting one of his feet stuck in a stirrup, and the horse proceeded to drag him down the racetrack, kicking him in the process, which caused injuries, including chest and head trauma, that ultimately led to his death.

The incident occurred while Calderon was taking his horse out on a practice run at the track.

The award to plaintiff Nura D. Calderon, the deceased jockey’s widow, came after a week-and-a-half trial before Common Pleas Court Judge Albert J. Snite, Jr. She is represented by Michael A. Trunk of the Philadelphia firm Kline & Specter.

The verdict was against defendants Greenwood Racing Inc., the owner of the racetrack, as well as subsidiaries Bensalem Racing Association Inc. and Keystone Turf Club Inc.

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