08/16/2007 12:00AM

Guild weighs appeal in suit


The Jockeys' Guild is contemplating whether to appeal a judge's dismissal of a lawsuit accusing its former chief executive of fraud, a representative of the guild said on Wednesday.

Judge Otis D. Wright of the U.S. District Court of Los Angeles dismissed the lawsuit on Monday, two days before a scheduled trial date. Wright ruled that because the guild is not a union, the organization did not have standing to sue in federal court under the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosures Act, but could pursue a lawsuit in state court.

Last year, the guild sued Gertmenian in both state and federal courts, seeking to recover $1 million that the guild alleged had been misappropriated by Gertmenian and his management company, Matrix Capital Associates. Gertmenian was fired by the guild's board in November, 2005, after a three-year tenure.

Tom Kennedy, a lawyer for the guild, said on Thursday that the Guild will pursue the lawsuit in state court in California, and is still considering whether to appeal Wright's decision. The lawsuit filed by the guild in California state court is scheduled for trial on Oct. 15.

Kennedy said that the state lawsuit does not cite the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosures Act, and instead focuses on Gertmenian's compensation and financial practices while at the helm of the Guild.

The Guild, which is based in Los Angeles, represents approximately 1,100 Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse riders, providing health insurance that is funded by member fees. The organization has struggled to define itself as a union or labor organization because its members are considered independent contractors who do not have the rights afforded to unionized workers.

In his Monday ruling, Wright specifically defined riders as "independent contractors," a definition consistent with prior rulings involving the Guild.