Harness racing driver sues Harrah's for poor track condition

Posted: February 01, 2014

CHESTER Attorneys for a harness racing driver claim a poorly maintained track at Harrah's Philadelphia casino caused a crash that left him severely brain damaged last fall.

A lawsuit filed Tuesday in Philadelphia by lawyers for Anthony Coletta follows the state's suspension last week of Harrah's forthcoming racing schedule because the casino failed to comply with requests to address track surface issues.

Harrah's casino license is contingent on the Chester site's offering horse racing. The Gaming Control Board said Harrah's license is not in jeopardy at this point. The season doesn't start until March, and the state and Harrah's are continuing to meet to address issues regarding the track's quality, Gaming Control Board spokesman Doug Harbach said.

Coletta's attorneys said they were concerned that Harrah's would repair its track before they can inspect it for their lawsuit. A Judge Thursday granted them the right to access the track by Feb. 21.

Their suit alleges that several veteran harness drivers believe the track was defective in the area of the Nov. 17 crash. The attorneys also claim that Harrah's was aware of the surface's poor condition and failed to repair it.

During that race, Coletta was thrown a "considerable distance" from his cart when his horse fell, the suit said. Coletta suffered a permanent brain injury and is "incapacitated" and living in a rehabilitation facility.

Coletta's attorneys plan to file an official complaint against Harrah's at a later date.

"We have reason to believe that there was a dangerous condition that the owners had knowledge of and information about," one of the lawyers, Michael Barrett, said in an interview. "They didn't rectify it in a timely fashion, resulting in our client's catastrophic injuries."

Lawrence Kelly, the attorney for Harrah's, declined to comment because, he said, the matter is still being litigated.


bfinley@phillynews.com

610-313-8118

@Ben_Finley

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