Attorney at Law
345 South Fourth Street
Danville, Ky 40422
February 19, 1997
TO: Board of Directors
FROM: Jim Rogan, Chairman-Protest Committee
SUBJECT: Prize Money
I write to you on my professional letterhead to illustrate my point. You can
expect to receive future letters from attorneys as a result of sanctioned rides
that award prize money. The letters will demand money damages for physical
injuries, lost prize money and punitive damages to compensate a victim for the
willfil disregard of AERC Rules and Regulations.
I foresee sanctioning directors and ride stewards sued individually for
inadequate course design, failure to change an obvious hazard or sanctioning
a ride without riding the course in advance to discover any hazards that might
not be appreciated by the riders in the heat of competition. The hapless
volunteer who gives a rider incomplete or erroneous trail information will
spend time in court as my brothers and sisters at the bar pontificate about
the standards of care that should be imposed on ride personnel.
You may think I'm being somewhat extreme, but after two years on the protest
committee I feel comfortable in stating that litigation will follow prize
money. When you read these protest letters you can feel the anger of the rider
and their sense of being forced to suffer an injustice through no fault of
their own. These people will be suing you. It was only this year that we
recieved a protest from a rider who called her attorney on her cell phone at
the ride seeking legal advice. If this rider had lost first place prize money
because of a percieved error of a ride volunteer, I doubt if a response from
the Protest Committee would have sufficed and closed the matter. Prize money
will change the dynamics of the ride and alter the relationship that now exists
between riders and ride personnal.
From a lawyer's perspective, prize money will make a lawsuit against the
ride manager, directors and any possible deep pocket a " money making venture".
As it stands now a lawsuit based on an amateur event represents a looser type
of case. Most states have enacted liability limiting statutes that prevent
lawsuits based on carelessness in horse related activities. I doubt if these
statutes will protect you if AERC sanctions prize money. You may deem it
advisable to seek your own legal advice.
I could go on in great detail about other questions prize money will raise,
but I think my point is made. There is one more area that I think deserves your
consideration. As a board member you are one of many who unselfishly devotes
his or her time and money to further the sport of endurance riding. AERC
committees are staffed by volunteers, the rides are possible because of
volunteers. We would provide the entire AERC infrastructure that will enable
a handful of riders with state of the art equipment, the most able pit crews
and the most outstanding horses to win the lions share of any prize money.
The average AERC rider will never see any prize money. Each one of us should
consider if we want to donate out time and individual financial resourses so
a few could win prize money. I seriously doubt that I would donate my time
and bear the expenses of postage and copying to resolve protests to decide
who wins $3000.00 as opposed to $2000.00. Let the courts decide disputes
over prize money.
I ask you to consider refusing to sanction any ride that awards prize
money. In my opinion this should include IAHA sweepstakes and ROC. We should
let IAHA conduct its own ride and incur the liability. If prize money is so
important then AERC sanctioning should be meaningless to the riders because
they are riding to win, which is of course, opposite of
TO FINISH IS TO WIN.
" End Quote