April 16, 2014

A Philadelphia jury agreed with the family of a jockey killed at a Bensalem, Pennsylvania, racetrack that the facility failed to take action to prevent his death. It was almost four years ago when a Bucks County jockey was exercising a horse when it became frightened by chickens and threw the man from its back. The attorney for the jockey’s family says that the horse then dragged and kicked the man who sustained 11 broken ribs and bleeding on his brain.

The family says that the facility knew of the presence of the chickens at the racetrack and allowed them to remain. Apparently, the chickens were brought there years ago by horse owners and trainers and were never removed. The jockey’s family says that there had been another incident just five months prior wherein another jockey was injured after a chicken spooked his horse. The victim’s family says that the racetrack had ample prior warning of the hazards posed by the chickens being in proximity to the horses.

The jury agreed and awarded the jockey’s family $8 million for the fatal accident, $5 million of which is in punitive damages. The attorney for the family says that the large award should send a message that the racetrack should have placed a larger emphasis on worker safety rather than the profit garnered at the betting gates. They also say that the racetrack admitted that it did not exercise reasonable actions to rid the racetrack of the chickens.

No amount of money is ever an adequate substitute for the love and shared experiences of a loved one. However, this family may now start to fill the gap left by the jockey’s missing income. If he had children perhaps some of the money will help them pursue their education, or other endeavors. Justice doesn’t always mean that someone goes to jail. A financial amount of this size will certainly force the racetrack to institute changes to improve the safety of its workers. That is a form of justice in itself.

Source: CBS Philly, “Jury Gives Family Of Jockey Killed At Parx Racetrack Huge Reward” Brad Segall, Apr. 10, 2014