Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge Albert J. Snite has denied Defendant, Parx Casino and Racetrack’s motions for post-trial relief following a $7.8 million verdict awarded to the widow of a horse jockey who was killed when he was trampled by a horse at the racetrack. On the morning of May 30, 2010, jockey, Mario Ramiro Calderon of Croydon, Bucks County, was exercising his horse, Cassidy Blue, when a chicken entered the track and frightened the horse causing it to buck and throw Calderon off the saddle. Calderon’s foot remained caught in the saddle and the horse repeatedly kicked him in the head and chest. The jockey was pronounced dead approximately three hours later. Calderon’s attorney alleged that Parx created an unsafe environment by allowing chickens to roam free on the racetrack even though they were aware of at least one prior incident where a jockey was injured when a chicken frightened his horse.
Following a $7.8 million verdict entered in favor of Calderon’s widow, including $5 million in punitive damages, Parx sought post-trial relief arguing that Plaintiff’s should not have been allowed to introduce photographs and video taken over a year after the accident for the purpose of showing how chickens were able to wander onto the track. Parx argued that this evidence was not relevant as it did not accurately portray the track conditions on the date of Calderon’s incident. Judge Snite disagreed, stating that the photographs and video were relevant to show how chickens were able to get onto the racetrack and to corroborate and/or impeach the testimony of various expert witnesses on this issue.