By Brad Segall
BENSALEM, Pa. (CBS) – A Philadelphia jury has come back with a nearly $8-million award for the family of a Bucks County jockey who was killed on the racetrack at Parx in Bensalem nearly four years ago.
Mario Calderon suffered eleven broken ribs and bleeding on his brain after he was thrown from a horse he was exercising. Attorneys say he was dragged and repeatedly kicked after the thoroughbred was spooked by chickens that were allowed to roam the track.
The jury verdict includes $5-million in punitive damages and attorney Michael Trunk of Kline and Specter hopes that sends a clear message:
“My hope is that this will send a message to Parx to make safety paramount over profits from gambling on the racetrack.”
Trunk says Parx admitted at trial that it did not take all reasonable efforts to remove the chickens from the premises which were brought there many years ago by horse owners and trainers:
“Parx was aware that the chickens presented a safety hazard of spooking horses and, in fact, five months before this incident another jockey was injured on the racetrack when a chicken spooked a horse in front of his.”
Trunk adds the family is pleased with the verdict. He says the jury forced Parx to do what it refused to do on its own — take responsibility for a preventable death.