07/03/2012 1:51PM

Canani and Licht must pay damages to owner, jury rules


A California jury has awarded $48,750 in actual damages and $50,000 in punitive damages to horse owner Jeffrey Nielsen of Minnesota stemming from a 2009 lawsuit against trainer Julio Canani and horse owner Roger Licht for the sale of some of Nielsen’s California-based horses in 2008.

The suit alleged that Canani convinced Nielsen to sell horses at low prices, and then turned around and resold them for higher values.

The ruling was released on June 28. The decision was first reported by Paulickreport.com.

Nielsen, who has raced such horses as the multiple stakes winners Island Fashion and Petionville, had sought $1 milllion in damages. The case was heard by a mediator but an agreement between the parties was not reached, leading to the jury trial.

The case focused primarily on Canani’s role as an agent for Nielsen’s Everest Stables in the sale of several horses. The jury ruled that Canani misrepresented details of the physical condition and values of the horses and told Nielsen that the horses were being sold to another party when Canani bought them himself and then sold them to others for a profit.

The suit alleged that Licht, a former chairman of the California Horse Racing Board, was a partner with Canani on the sale of some horses.

One juror told the Paulick Report that suggested damages in deliberations ranged from zero to $371,000.

Of the actual damages, Licht on Tuesday said that he is liable for only $1,562, and has asked judge Dale Fischer to set aside his liability in the punitive damages, approximately $12,500, citing a California Supreme Court ruling that states that punitive damages cannot be higher than actual damages.

The jury ruled that Canani must pay the balance of the actual damages, $47,188.