‘I’m Screwed’: Maryland Case Of Missing Workers’ Comp Illustrates Problems With Costly System

by | 03.13.2017 | 2:01pm
An exercise rider cleans his tack after morning training at Churchill Downs

On Dec. 15, 2016, the stewards at Laurel Park issued a brief statement following the hearing of trainer Wayne Potts. Potts, who is based in Maryland and Delaware and has trained since 2004, was found to have operated his racing stable without workers' compensation insurance from Aug. 31, 2015 to March 16, 2016. The trainer, ranked 87th in the country by wins last year, was fined $1,500 for the offense.

The penalty assessed by the stewards is their collective decision which is usually based on previous decisions,” said Mike Hopkins, executive director of the Maryland Racing Commission. “I do not anticipate any further action.”

A former employee of the Potts stable said there's something about that which doesn't sit right with her. The exercise rider, a former trainer who requested her name not be used, had been working horses for Potts in the mornings when one went down with her on the morning of Feb. 19. Her head injuries were severe enough that an assistant in the shedrow took her to a nearby hospital.

“I thought I was in a car accident,” she said. “I had no idea a horse went down with me, I was very confused.”

When the bills starting coming in a few weeks later, the rider said she asked Potts to provide her a claim number from his workers' compensation policy to pay for the expenses not covered by her medical insurance. She thought the matter was resolved until she was rejected for an apartment rental in Florida a few months later. She was told her credit score was too low, and when she did some digging, she found out it was because the hospital bills had defaulted to her. The claim number she had been given was invalid for her accident; on the date of her fall, Potts had no insurance.

State database records indicate Potts cancelled his policy in August 2015 and didn't reinstate it until several weeks after his employee's fall. According to those records, the policy was cancelled, not expired.

Potts did not respond to a list of questions from the Paulick Report about the incident.

“As a fellow trainer, I know you can't have lapses in your workers' comp coverage,” the former Potts employee said. “I'm screwed. I was out of work for three months, and so I'm not being compensated for my time out of work, either.”

The stewards' ruling has left her worried about the precedent that could be set for trainers in the future looking to cut costs – and costs related to workers' comp can be high.

How does the system work?

Workers' compensation insurance has been a thorn in the side of racing operations for as long as many horsemen can remember. In most states, workers' comp is required of anyone who has employees as a matter of law, and rates are determined by the amount of risk involved in the job. Unsurprisingly, working on the backstretch of a racetrack is typically in the most expensive rate group because of the high-risk nature of the work.

The system for funding workers' comp for grooms, hotwalkers and other barn staff varies slightly by state and even by racetrack. In the Mid-Atlantic region, tracks require trainers to submit proof of their current workers' comp policy before they may be granted stalls, and states may also require a trainer to have proof of insurance to obtain a license, even if they don't plan to hire employees. Tracks make note of when a policy is due to expire, and trainers are supposed to provide proof of renewal, though some tracks are more rigorous about checking up on a trainer's insurance status than others.

“Most of the tracks are not overly diligent in following up,” said Richard Hoffberger, president of the Hoffberger Insurance Agency and former president of the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association. “Years ago there was a guy at NYRA, and that's what he did for a living, that was his job. He checked every entry, every day against the workers' comp, and if you didn't have a current piece of paper on file, you didn't start. But most tracks are not as diligent as that anymore. As you can imagine it's a full-time job.”

Trainers purchasing insurance from the limited number of carriers still willing to provide it to horsemen have seen costs rise each year as the cost of insurance and healthcare generally increases. The charge to the horseman is determined by the amount of their payroll, with a given rate per $100. Those rates also vary by state, but Hoffberger says they are about $12 per $100 in Maryland, and may be as high as $18 or $19/$100 in high-cost states like New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

In these states, employees like exercise riders who work for more than one trainer also have their portions of workers' comp coverage split between the various employers. That means payroll record-keeping is especially important, and experts say it's easier for trainers to cheat the system, which raises costs for everyone else.

Even small operations with no employees can be hit with a high bill for workers' comp. Potts' former exercise rider remembers paying $2,000 per year for her own coverage when she was a one-person operation. Hoffberger points out that even a medium-sized operation with 10 employees may have a payroll of $4,500 per week, which means the trainer's workers' comp bill comes to $540 per week. That money adds up quickly, especially if a trainer is struggling to make ends meet.

What about riders?

Again, depending upon the state, jockeys and/or exercise riders may be taken care of separately. Jockeys are generally recognized as independent contractors, since very few American operations hire them on exclusive contracts these days. Exercise riders may be independent contractors, although some spend part of their career working exclusively for one operation (as was true in the Potts case); sometimes, their insurance is addressed in combination with jockeys; other times, it's rolled into the policy for backstretch workers.

It's challenging to keep track of a payroll that varies by the day with which riders are working. Some trainers pay cash, others skip paying overtime, and some may lie about how many employees they have, all to get a break on workers' comp insurance. Experts say that's part of the reason rates keep rising; trainers who don't try to play the system are left holding the bag for the number of claims.

In New York, New Jersey, and Maryland, jockeys are considered employees for the purpose of workers' comp insurance and have their insurance paid for by horsemen. In other states, including Pennsylvania and Kentucky, they're considered independent contractors and the expense of coverage falls on the racetracks. In some states, the limit on claims for such policies may be as little as $1 million, which doesn't go far if a jockey is involved in a catastrophic fall and is paralyzed.

New York's horsemen have tried to create a self-insurance fund to cover jockeys and exercise riders, but legislation allowing for alternative coverage like this was vetoed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo late last year.FlatteringBea_GarryCruise_celebrates_with_groom_(2)_2014_SugarMaple

A different remedy

Horsemen in California ultimately came up with their own solution to the workers' comp issue. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, rates had jumped to an average of $60 per $100 of payroll for private carriers, and trainers were leaving the state.

“Losses can be very big in horse racing and that's what scares off many insurance underwriters,” said Brad McKinzie, a track executive at Los Alamitos. “When you call most insurance companies that do workers' comp, as soon as you say ‘horse racing' you'll hear a click on the other end of the line. Insurance companies don't like big losses and we're certainly an industry that can have big losses.”

California trainers came together to create a self-insurance group, in which they pay a flat rate into a fund that covers employees of its members, including jockeys, in the event of a claim. The group, called Finish Line Self-Insurance Group, charges trainers based not on payroll but on the number of stalls they rent. This year's cost is $2.95 per horse per day, which McKinzie estimates puts yearly costs to trainers at 40 to 45 percent below what private insurance carriers would charge. Finish Line also works directly with tracks and the California Horse Racing Board to make sure trainers who fail to pay for their coverage have stalls revoked and entries blocked if necessary.

Why doesn't every state have a self-insurance group? McKinzie said there are three critical elements that keep Finish Line going. First, someone must agree to be the financial back-up plan if a self-insurance group can't pay its bills. In California, Los Alamitos owner Dr. Ed Allred stepped up when the group was formed, vouching for a yearly budget that's now around $13 million. McKinzie said the group has never required a bailout from Allred.

Second, the group needed a subsidy to offset its costs. Finish Line gets half its budget (around $6.5 million) subsidized from exotic wagers in the state. Half of one percent of exotics is deposited into the group's account. Finally, the group must also pay for excess insurance to protect itself from large claims. Finish Line is on the hook for up to $1 million per claim, but California law places no limits on the value of a workers' compensation claim, so the group has a policy with Midlands Management of Oklahoma to pick up the tab for claims exceeding $1 million. McKinzie said to his knowledge, Midlands is the only company that will provide such a policy. So far, he said, horsemen in other states who have explored this option have struggled to get all three elements in play to keep a self-insurance group working, but Finish Line has made a big difference for California trainers.

“I personally find it difficult to envision any kind of platform or program other than self-insurance, which can provide reliable and affordable coverage for horse racing,” said McKinzie. “The racing industry itself needs to be in control of its own destiny on this, or it'll blow up on them.”

Alan Foreman (center) speaking at a 2013 ROAP conference

Alan Foreman (center) speaking at a 2013 ROAP conference

Alan Foreman, attorney and general counsel to a number of Mid-Atlantic horsemen's groups, said officials in Maryland have looked at captive insurance, self-insurance, and policies funded by offshore providers. Nothing has panned out yet. In lieu of a more cost-effective solution, Foreman suggests trainers take a long look at safety in their shedrows to reduce the likelihood of claims, which ultimately raise their costs.

“It's been a vexing problem for as long as I've been working in the business, and it presents one of the biggest economic threats to the industry, quite frankly,” Foreman said. “You really have to get very aggressive with your risk management.”

How much does it really cost?

Foreman and Hoffberger agree it's unusual to see a trainer sanctioned for failure to carry workers' comp insurance; for most, they figure the risk of being caught or having an employee injured on the job would be too great.

“I don't think it happens very often. You don't really hear in Maryland of stories where lots of people don't have coverage,” said Hoffberger, who noted some states don't require an employer to have workers' comp for just a few employees, although tracks do.

The rider in the Potts case questions whether horsemen will continue to pay for policies if they know their punishment is likely to be less than the money they saved in premium payments. There's also the question of eligibility for horses Potts started during the time he was uninsured. Had tracks been aware of his status at the time of entry, those horses would not have been eligible to run, per regulations and stall contracts in those states. During this time, Potts runners started over 330 times in West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and Pennsylvania. It's easy to wonder what also-rans in those races think about losing purse money to Potts under the circumstances.

“He got fined $1,500, which is cheaper than a worker's comp policy, so he got away with not doing things right and it was still cheaper for him,” the former employee said. “They've set the precedent of what it costs when you do something like this, and it's cheaper.

“I don't really understand how this is all going on and there's no repercussions. As a fellow trainer and also an employee who was affected by it, I'm just blown away.”

Correction: An earlier version of this story cited a significant fine ($5,000) levied against another trainer, Michael Pino, for failing to be present to saddle his horse ahead of a race at Laurel Nov. 5. Maryland officials have since clarified the fine amount was printed incorrectly on the rulings report, and was in fact $50.

 

  • kuzdal

    I read this article early this afternoon and thought I should wait until the responses started pouring in…..nothing, hours later.

    Whether you want to discuss this in terms of immigration policy, minimum wage, healthcare and/or the loss of care track workers might have through the Affordable Care Act, it’s up to you. The selfish avoidance of paying needed premiums, whatever. But, again, no one has commented. And I wonder why.

  • Racing Fan

    Potts is a bum. He has money to buy Wayne Potts apparel “WAP” blinkers, etc. he needs sued for everything he owns.

    Also Maryland should have caught this.

  • Worker

    Happened in Florida to I know the girl is fighting for hospital bills and wages Donna Green was the trainer

    • Guest

      I remember seeing the Donna Green story but when I googled it nothing came up.
      Can you remind us of the details to the girl’s accident ?

  • Tinky

    Excellent reporting, Natalie.

    Setting aside the numerous, and more obvious cynical takeaways, why the hell isn’t there a big stakes race run at SA or Del Mar honoring Dr. Ed Allred*?

    *As a well-established cynic, I’m afraid that I actually do know the answer…

  • secondlife

    So NY could have had a self-insurance group, but it was vetoed by the governor. Yet another example of how government interference can stifle the marketplace. Self-insurance groups would be a good idea for health insurance on a national level, but I’m sure Congress would never allow it.

    • lastromantibune

      that’s because we have a crook as a Gov. piece of crappola he is…..thinks he is going to be president…lmao….good luck with that little Andy. as for his cheer leading brother on CNN …another bias loser.

  • kevin smith

    this exercise rider needs to sue potts. workers comp would have protected potts from a lawsuit. go see a lawyer won’t cost anything , they take 33% of the settlement in NY I’m not sure of percentages in MD

    • ridingtowin

      I pretty sure that 33% is the standard.

  • Rob B

    He’s currently suspended/ not training. I wonder if its related to this. He’s not who he portrays.

    • Tommy Smith

      Potts is a bum owes everyone money and tries to act like he is a big player. He is currently suspended for a positive test at Charlestown for Naproxen which he is telling everyone at Laurel that his groom urinated in the stall after taking aleve. Really Mr. Potts it’s only a matter of time before this all catches up with you and your beautiful girlfriend lol

      • Tommy Smith

        What’s a suspension when he is still running and cheating under Derrick Goetz. Nothing changes his horses run under the same colors bridles WAP blinkers.

      • Rob B

        Believe me I’m well aware.

        • Tommy Smith

          Rob B just to make you aware he returns Thursday and he will be made aware of his 2 other positives he got while on suspension.

  • Guest

    Unbelievable!! How can you not have workers comp training horses! Holy the things you hear these days at the track. It’s the trainers responsibility to have this it’s mandatory!!

  • Bubba

    There must be something else to this story. No one in their right mind would have allowed this to happen without suing Mr. Potts. That would be too easy, my guess there is something else. Also could we please have a follow up and question to Mr. Pino about the 5k fine. I as a trainer know I am responsible enough to keep insurance but have been known to not saddle every horse I run.

    • ridingtowin

      I don’t think I have ever seen a trainer fined that much for failure to be in paddock to saddle their horse. And this has become standard practice at every race track where trainers and/or their assistants of horses shipping in fail to drive out to handle their business. Instead they rely on somebody else(perhaps another trainer) at track, the van driver or a second valet, etc.

      • Denver Beckner

        Pino was fined $50.00 not $5,000

        • Not according to the Maryland Racing Commission Rulings:

          November 10, 2016 – Laurel Park
          #16-186 Trainer, Michael Pino, is fined $5000 for failure to be in attendance in the paddock for the saddling of “R Bling Shines”, entered to run in the eighth race at Laurel Park on November 5, 2016, or having a representative present to saddle the horse.
          THIS IS A VIOLATION OF: [COMAR 09.10.01.57 H]

          • Denver Beckner

            The decimal point is behind the wrong zero, if Pino was fined 5K for a simple violation it would be a bigger story than the one that was written. I work as a racing official in Md., before posting I spoke to one of the Stewards because I thought that the 5K fine was quite excessive.

  • ShilohH

    This is bull crap. Trainers are required to have workmans comp in Md when they apply for a license every January. This is the job of the Maryland Racing Commission end of story. The policy was probably cancelled for non payment.

    • Mr J

      Good point

  • RMcLaughlin aka HG

    As a California attorney who does workers’ compensation this is very concerning. It must be remembered that workers compensation was set up at the turn of the century as a social contract between employers and employees. If the employer has insurance the employee give up the right to sue the employer in civil court with all of the attendant expenses associated with that for both parties. In exchange, employee gets prompt medical care and prompt limited wage loss (not full wage in most states 2/3 of actual wages) when recovering and limited money if partially permanently disabled (does not recover all the loses sustained by the employee.)
    As noted in the article, an employer who cheats the system is not only hurting their employees but also other employers who play by the rules and the general tax payor because they get stuck footing the bill meant for the cheating employer. In the end, the wrongdoer is doing a corporate (or individual) form of the kids game of “dine and dash.” Use the resources of the employee, but when the full check comes for the cost of the employee who got injured on your job, dash out leaving the employee, other employers and the general tax payers footing the bill.
    The penalty imposed by the Track was insufficient to deter this type of conduct.

    • Gina Maybee

      Does workers’ comp cover “independent contractors”?

      • RMcLaughlin aka HG

        No, however, ever state defines what is an independent contractor from an employee differently. You need to look to the laws of the state you are in and you may need to speak with a workers’ compensation attorney in your state about this.

        • Gina Maybee

          I’ve heard horsemen who were dropped because they had no payroll after getting workers comp for a year when it comes audit time. or when they told the insurance company they had no payroll that they could not get covered as well… I mean its not the same situation as this guy… but for the smaller operations or mom and pop operations its not as simple as just calling an insurance company and getting workers comp… another question does workers comp cover the guy buying insurance?

          • RMcLaughlin aka HG

            Short answer, on the coverage of the guy buying the insurance, it depends on state law and how the business if formed. Suggest you contact a lawyer at this point as it is state specific.

          • Gina Maybee

            Alan Foreman has basically summed up where we are just standardbreds instead of thoroughbreds

          • Ed Priz

            Every state operates some kind of “insurer of last resort” to make sure every employer who needs Workers Comp insurance can get it, no matter how small premiums may be. And the policy covers everyone who can legally make a claim against the insured employer, although most states allow sole proprietors, partners, or executive officers of a corp. to exclude themselves if they want.

        • Tom Davis

          I was told by an attorney that if the worker cannot set his own hours, cannot charge what he wants to charge, cannot wear what he wants to wear while working etc, etc, then he is not an independent contractor but an employee no matter what the boss says or no matter what the worker signs. If this matters goes to court, the worker does not have to prove that he is not an independent contractor. The employer has to prove that the worker is NOT an employee. And that’s where it fails for the employer. Agree?

    • POWAYMOJO

      WC is, essentially, ‘No Fault’ insurance for employees. It provides a coverage response without the employee needing to prove the employer did anything wrong, UP TO A POINT.
      But, for the average employee, it is a great system. There are cheaters on both sides of the table but, the system works.

      The California plan is a good one. I am surprised there are not more ‘Excess’ carriers out there. I used to place coverage with American Bankers who specialized in all things horse.

      Anyway, glad horsemen in my state wised up and formed their own self-insurance pool.

  • Mr J

    Im pretty sure hospitall bills do not effect credit score ,especially in a couple months. That said a lawyer and a lien will clear her bills right up and shift the responsibilty to Potts

    • Emily

      Oh God you cannot be more wrong. They absolutely do affect your credit especially when the bills go unpaid and the bill/ debt goes to collection. Once in collection it does ding your credit and paying the collection agency will not remove it from your credit report. Even paid in full afterwards that record will stay for 7 years.

  • Tommy Smith

    Just in case others are unaware of the crookedness of Wayne Potts just follow his chronies Derrick Goetz , Mr. Wonderful Anthony Farrior and Jonathan Maldonado. Is Laurel going to become the next Parx. I hope not but I am not holding my breath.

    • Tommy Smith Jr

      J be quiet, you may get X fired again.

  • Rick44

    I think the fine was so low because the Track felt bad about not knowing his WC had lapsed. She should suit the track and Potts and let the courts figure it out if she has a case. At the very minimum Potts should not be allowed to race until he pays her medical bills.

    • ridingtowin

      Yeah, she may have a great case against the track for not being responsible enough to make sure those stabled and racing there are insured. It may sound petty suing the track, but it could lead to huge changes in the future so that this doesn’t happen again to other unsuspecting employees.

  • BobF

    If you don’t have w/c insurance and are a trainer….you are out of your mind. That opens you up to a civil suit by the injured worker and your life will be ruined.

  • Michael Keller

    Very interesting article, and thank you for reporting on this very important topic. What I can add, from my own experience and involvement, was that in NY, when NYRA and the horsemen tried to structure an alternative, it was based upon a self-insured fund model. Self-insured doesn’t mean self-funded. They are two different aspects. Self-insured — in order to work — needs several ingredients for the entire, complete recipe to be successful. I don’t remember if the NY proposed plan had all of the ingredients. For a self-insured model to work — you need to have strong, reliable, dependable, and predictable funding, economies of scale, and strong, stable, risk management principles in place, and more. I know another item which was a concern to many, was whether or not there would be any “subsidy” element and if so, would it be stable, reliable, etc. Lastly, I don’t know if there was any “excess” coverage element to this. Sure, if you do it right, have all the ingredients, it can work. From a selfish standpoint, being a NY owner, I would like it to work.

    That said, this is just another element of our industry that needs accountability, transparency, and checks and balances.

  • Michael Keller

    In addition, I feel very sorry for the “victim” here. She should visit with a quality, specialist, attorney and see what recourse she has.

  • youcantmakeitup

    Another thing not mentioned here is that there are people having their horses saddled by a program trainer who has WC. And commissions are well aware of it. Some tracks are well aware that a trainer`s WC has lapsed but they need the entries. This is fixable but like many things , tracks, racing commissions, HBPA don`t take care of business.

  • Will Styles

    This sport is dangerous for all involved. I would suggest anyone working in the industry to get a private disability policy for around $110 dollars a month. Then when something like this happens you have coverage and can pay your bills. I wouldn’t count on any of these trainers to pay their bills if at all. Most trainers I’ve met are dysfunctional at best and are barely getting by these days. Horse racing is in a death spiral everyone knows it. Very few want to admit to it.

  • Guest

    High workers compensation has made a lot of program trainers, which shouldn’t be allowed. This case sounds like his policy was cancelled due to non payment. I’m not defending anyone here but workers comp is outrageously high! You have to pay it to run horses, but it’s out of control with the price. This guy didn’t do the right thing I agree.

    • Racing Fan

      Horse racing is not a sport for the person looking to operate on a lean budget. If you can’t pay the bills, then go open a dunkin donuts franchise.

  • Richard C

    Potts played with an employee’s life — and the laughably minuscule penalty shows the state could care less.

  • Due Process

    Ms Voss, a friend at Laurel tells me that Wayne Potts was not contacted by the Paulick Report for comment before you published this article about him. Is this true?

    • Natalie Voss

      No, it’s definitely not true.

      • 5k???

        Ms Voss where can I find the report where a trainer got fined 5k for failing to saddle his horse. Did you check with the stewards if that was true. Sounds crazy, honestly happens all the time.

        • Denver Beckner

          That’s not true, Pino got fined $50.00 for failing to have a trainer saddle his horse in his absence, he was warned before.

  • Leonard

    The tracks need to have a full time employee cking everyday to make sure these policies are in effect, it protects all involved because it very important, these individuals risks themselves all day long while working. If you can’t afford to be a trainer then you need to find another profession & the tracks as well need to fork over some cash to hire individuals to make sure all the right things are being done on the back side on a daily basis or they also need to close down the track. Tracks are very expensive to attend now a days & there is no excuse for this crap to be happening. Too many issues going on at race tracks across the country, from the hiring of illegal immigrants, low wages being paid (below minimum wage), no over time, no breaks, no lunch, workers comp not being paid, the list goes on an on. The state needs to get involved which no one wants but at this point it’s a big mess an something needs to be done before that becomes the final nail in the coffin for the Sport Of Kings because of greed and plain old not caring…..

    • POWAYMOJO

      Well, the tracks can ask for a Certificate of Insurance from the trainers and keep a simple followup calendar to refresh them. The odds of an incident occurring during a lapse in coverage between those followups are certainly in a tolerable range.

  • Mike Oliveto

    In New York the state will hammer you with onerous fines and penalties for employing people and not having Workman’s Comp in place. And they perform regular audits. I know people that were almost put out of business for having their wife on the payroll and not having Workman’s Comp in place. If Maryland is like New York then Mr. Potts is going to be getting out his checkbook for much more than $1500.

    • Guest

      The checks are all rubber though

  • the watcher

    Wow lots of people talking about something they know nothing about. Lots of the comments are bogus. Before you print something condemning race tracks and commissions you should do a better investigation of the facts

    • Racing Fan

      That’s what Natalie did as the journalist you bonehead.

  • Lisa Melendez

    The racetrack needs to step up and create a single position for someone to sit in each racing office at every track to verify coverage, the State of Florida has a workers compensation database takes a few seconds to type in a name and verify, the racing office needs to verify this to protect all workers on the backside and the jockeys. You can buy a policy and cancel it the next day after you receive a certificate of insurance good for a year, only checking the database will confirm if this coverage is still in place. Yes, it is very hard for the small outfits to obtain and keep coverage, if you can’t show the minimum payroll the insurance company will cancel the policy after yearly audit is done.

  • johnnyknj

    $5,000 for not saddling a horse? $500 maybe if you are a repeat offender. Also, why doesn’t the injured employee sue Potts immediately? She complains, rightly, that the $1,500 fine is not enough deterrent. That’s why God invented civil suits.

    • Racing Fan

      Exactly. There would be attorneys lined up around the block to represent her and sue the crap out of Potts for being a derelict. Wayne Potts’ numbers dipped big time after they had the positives in Maryland for steroids. Any coincidence?

    • steve

      Theres more to the story,,It would be mostly a false claim and there a WC penalty for that

  • ridingtowin

    I was injured a few years back working for a top trainer in Maryland too. I tried to work through it, but the pain was constant. Sleeping at night was difficult. I was taking some old pain pills I had left over from an injury a few years early. These pills weren’t the strong stuff that gets people hooked(I refuse to take anything like that), so it only somewhat relieved the pain. After a week or so, I told trainer I needed to go have my injury looked at and asked for Worker Comp information. The trainer refused to give me claim number, etc and told me to just go to a clinic and pay cash. So instead, I just took a month off to heal. If you get hurt in this business, good luck!

  • JustJoe

    This exercise rider needs to sue the owner of the horse and Wayne Potts. It’s their problem not her’s.

    This will get their attention!

    • Rob B

      So sue the owner who pays potts 35k a yr per horse to train it? I guarantee the owner knew nothing about it. Sue Potts and the Maryland Racing Commission. They failed the excercise rider more than the owner did.

      • JustJoe

        Yep, the owner hired a worthless trainer that has no regard for his employees.

        Go after everybody!

        • Rob B

          Thats ridiculous but whatever u say.

  • Ed Priz

    The lack of a Workers Comp policy does not remove an employer’s liability towards injured workers under a state’s Workers Comp Act, so this trainer really should be contacting an attorney to pursue that claim against the employer. Also, the fine discussed here is only the fine levied by the track–most states also assess significant penalties against employers who operate without valid Workers Comp insurance.

    • Racing Fan

      The trainer is the employer.

      • Ed Priz

        i see what you’re saying, yes, I used wrong terminology. Trainer was the employer.

  • Farmer

    SUE. SUE. SUE. That’s why we’re in this mess to begin with. As a trainer you have to guarantee that none of your employees will ever suffer permanent injuries working with horses. After 40 years I wake up really hurting every morning. Who can I sue? If the lawyers don’t understand that this is an inherently dangerous business and horse accidents are often nobodies fault, well all drown in a sea of red tape and high premiums. I haven’t had a claim in over 15 years but my rates are doubled from 15 years ago. Go figure.

    • Ed Priz

      No, we enacted Workers Comp laws after people got tired of workers being maimed and killed without effective recompense for their injuries and lost time. Workers Comp is a no fault system, but if an employer doesn’t carry insurance then an attorney is typically needed to help the injured worker get the compensation due them under the law. The Workers Comp system was designed to keep injured workers from being discarded by their employers like a used up piece of equipment. And the cost of Workers Comp insurance is based on things like an employer’s loss history and safety programs, so it creates a powerful financial incentive to do what can be done to reduce workplace injuries, even in an “inherently dangerous” business.

  • 33horses

    My best wished for the exercise rider to heal and get her bills paid.

  • johnnyknj

    Natalie, I think a correction on the supposed $5,000 fine to Mike Pino, which is offered as “context”, is in order.

    • Natalie Voss

      Thanks, Johnnyknj. I checked with the Maryland commission, since $5,000 was the amount listed on the rulings report, and they have confirmed this was a typo in the report. The report has been updated and we have added a correction to the story.

  • Flintstone

    Trainers should make that at least their grooms have workers comp. That way there is a paper trail when they blame the grooms for horses failing drug tests!

  • Mary Banister-Shaffer

    I know a few trainers at Presque isle downs that also have no workers compensation and they should be fine

  • nodouble

    Racetrack should have caught this. Potts must have Jockey Club registration papers on file in racing office for every horse on premises and they should require proof of workmen’s comp insurance for every employee on his badge list prior to any activities at the track including training and racing. Not difficult to administer.

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