Jockey Birzer Sues Guild, Former Officers

Injured jockey Gary Birzer has filed a $10-million lawsuit against the Jockeys' Guild and two former officers stemming from his accident at Mountaineer Race Track in 2004, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Named as defendants in the suit, filed in U. S. District court in Los Angeles, are former guild president L. Wayne Gertmenian and former guild vice president Albert Fiss. Gertmenian and Fiss were removed from their posts with the guild by the organization's board of directors last Tuesday.

According to the Times, Birzer thought he was insured for $1 million by the guild when he was paralyzed from the waist down in the spill. However, Birzer later learned that the guild had allowed the insurance polity to lapse t 3 1/2 months before his accident and he was not informed he was not insured, the newspaper reported.

The lawsuit alleges fraud and breach of fiduciary duty on the part of the defendants, the Times reported. The newspaper said Gertmenian did not respond to a phone message seeking comment on the lawsuit and Darrell Haire, the interim guild president, declined comment.

"It's a tragic thing that happened to Gary and we'll just have to deal with this. He's suing for $10 million and that's $10 million more than the guild has," the Times quoted guild attorney Barry Broad.

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