Hearing in Jockeys' Guild Suit Postponed

A hearing to determine if five defendants should be dismissed from a lawsuit filed against the Jockeys' Guild by former national manager John Giovanni was postponed Wednesday due to illnesses by attorneys on both sides of the case.

Jockeys Chris McCarron, Robert Colton, Mike McCarthy, and Tomey Swan were expected to ask Fayette County Circuit Court Judge Mary Noble to dismiss them from the suit on the grounds they don't do business in Kentucky and, therefore, the court does not have jurisdiction over them. Also seeking dismissal is L. Wayne Gertmenian, the chief executive officer for a California management consulting business, Matrix Capital Associates, that was put in charge of running the Guild after Giovanni left in June.

Giovanni is suing the Guild for wrongful termination and defamation of character. He wants the salary and benefits due him for the remainder of his two-year term as national manager, which was to end Dec. 31, 2002, and is seeking punitive damages related to "false, misleading, and malicious" statements allegedly made against him by some of the defendants, according to the suit. Giovanni worked for 20 years at the Guild, the last 14 as national manager.

All the defendants in the case have denied Giovanni was dismissed inappropriately. In their answer to the suit, they say Guild bylaws allow any officer to be dismissed with or without cause by the board of directors. Besides, the Guild issued a press release June 14 stating that Giovanni had resigned, and they say that document speaks for itself. The defendants also categorically denied making any slanderous remarks about Giovanni.

The hearing has been rescheduled for Friday, Nov. 30. The suit continues even if the jockeys and Gertmenian are dismissed because the Jockeys' Guild and Matrix Capital Associates are also defendants. Giovanni's attorney Brad Cowgill said he believes it is unlikely McCarron and McCarthy will be dismissed because they were both served their summonses while riding at Keeneland.