08/07/2006 12:00AM

Birzer settles with Guild


Gary Birzer, the jockey who was paralyzed from the waist down in an accident at Mountaineer in 2004, has reached a settlement with the Jockeys' Guild over a lawsuit he filed last year against the guild and its officers, Birzer's lawyer and the national manager of the guild said Monday.

The settlement was reached on Friday in the Central Division of United States District Court in Los Angeles between Birzer's lawyer, Paul Koczkur, and the guild's national manager, Dwight Manley. Terms of the settlement are confidential, both said.

"I can say that the Birzers are very pleased with the outcome," Koczkur said.

The lawsuit alleged that guild officials failed to inform the guild's members that they had decided to allow a catastrophic-injury insurance policy to lapse in 2002. The policy was allowed to lapse by the guild's former chief executive, L. Wayne Gertmenian.

Birzer, who claimed that his medical bills exceeded $500,000 as a result of the accident, was seeking $10 million in his initial filing of the suit, which also named Mountaineer Park in West Virginia.

Manley said that the settlement will not have a significant impact on the guild's finances.

"It's certainly an expense to the guild, but we wouldn't have done something we couldn't afford or follow through on," Manley said.