A Philadelphia jury has awarded $2.36 million to a boy kicked in the face by a horse at a program famous for involving inner-city youths in horseback riding and polo matches.
Plaintiff Pharaoh Williams and Williams’ mother, Callie Williams, of North Philadelphia, sued Work To Ride Inc. — a nonprofit created in 1994 to provide urban youths with activities centered around horses — for the broken jaw and other injuries Williams suffered after he was kicked in the face by a horse being loaded into a trailer, according to court papers. Work to Ride operates out of Chamounix Equestrian Center in Fairmount Park.
The jury found in its Sept. 22 verdict that Work to Ride’s negligence was a factual cause of Williams’ injuries, awarding $2.5 million in damages and $117,023 in medical bills, according to the verdict sheet. The jury also found that 10 percent of the negligent conduct that led to Williams’ injury was attributable to Williams and that 90 percent of the negligent conduct was attributable to Work to Ride.
The jury award of $2,617,023.60 was reduced to $2,355,321.24 by the 10 percent negligence attributed by the jury to Williams.
Judge Joseph I. Papalini presided over the trial.
Work to Ride has a $1 million policy with Lloyds of London, said plaintiffs attorney Ken Fulginiti of Duffy & Partners. Williams said a bad faith case will stem from the fact the jury verdict was returned for $1.6 million above Work to Ride’s policy limits.
Walter S. Jenkins of Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker was Work to Ride’s defense counsel. Jenkins did not return a phone call left Wednesday.
Williams, then 12, was asked to assist Work to Ride employee Shadaria Shuler in loading a horse onto a trailer July 1, 2006, according to the plaintiffs’ pretrial memorandum. The defense pretrial memorandum said that Williams asked Shuler if he could help load the horse onto the trailer.
Both the plaintiffs and defense papers said that Williams hit the horse with a stick on the hindquarters and the horse kicked Williams in the face after being hit with the stick. But the plaintiffs said Williams was asked by Shuler to use the stick on the horse’s hindquarters to get the horse to go onto the trailer. And the defense said that Williams hit the horse without any instruction from Shuler, Shuler commanded Williams to not hit the horse and Williams then hit the horse a second time in defiance of Shuler’s command.