'People's Court' Decides Horse Dispute

“The People’s Court,” a television court show featuring real litigants, real cases, and real justice, was the setting for two Philadelphia Park Casino & Racetrack trainers to settle their dispute over an unpaid board bill in an episode that aired in the Philadelphia area June 20.

Plaintiff Catherine LaRose, a former trainer and farm owner from Newfield, N.J., sued defendant Dianne Jeannont, a Philly Park trainer, for $2,940, claiming Jeannont had paid only one month’s board for her mare “Georgie,” despite the fact the mare had been on her farm from June 2006, through April 2007.

Jeannont’s defense was that she had subsequently brokered a deal with LaRose, whereby LaRose would re-train Georgie as a hunter/jumper, and LaRose would receive 30% when the mare was sold, and during that period no board was to be paid.

“I gave her nothing because she’s lying about the agreement,” said Jeannont, referring to the board bills.

Among LaRose’s witnesses was another Philly Park trainer, Mary Pattershall, who worked for Jeannont at the time Georgie was placed at LaRose’s farm.

Jeannont’s witness was Shannon Trinakosky, who testified that Georgie was not properly re-trained and was severely underweight when Jeannont removed her from LaRose’s farm in April 2007. Jeannont said Georgie was sold for $14,000 as a show prospect after being under Trinakosky’s care.

“I expected to get back a saleable product and I did not,” said Jeannont. “The horse was not schooled.”

Complicating the matter for Judge Marilyn Milian was the fact there was no boarding contract in place, and LaRose did not have copies of bills for board that she said were mailed to Jeannont. Jeannont brought what she claimed was the one and only bill she received to court, many months after the re-training agreement had been reached.

Milian ruled that, because there was an absence of a formal contract and no proof LaRose had mailed the bills, Jeannont did not have to pay the $2,940.

The show was taped in New York City in March, and the participants were paid travel expenses (gas and parking fees) plus $350 each by the show’s producer, Ralph Edwards/Stu Billett Productions. The civil suit was filed originally in Freehold, N. J., and, after checking court dockets, “The People’s Court” decided the case was interesting enough to put on the air.

“When Catherine told me ‘The People’s Court’ had called, we thought it was a joke,” Pattershall said. “We were actually in the studio taping for one-and-a-half hours, and they edited it down to about 20 minutes. I’ll tell you this: Judge Milian was absolutely mind-boggled at the way the racetrack works. She couldn’t believe the way people conduct business.”

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