Trainer Files Lawsuit in Fire that Killed 6 Horses in Kentucky

July 23, 2008

A thoroughbred trainer claims in a lawsuit that an incorrectly installed vending machine caused a barn fire that killed six horses in western Kentucky.

John Hancock claims in his suit against Royal Crown Bottling Corp. that the faulty installation caused a fire on Jan 4.

The machine installed in the fall of 2007 was plugged in using an extension cord, despite the manufacturer’s directions to not use one, according to the lawsuit. The suit states the cord overheated, resulting in the fire.

“The fire soon engulfed the entire barn structure, causing extensive property damage, including but not limited to the death of six thoroughbred racehorses and permanent injury to another thoroughbred racehorse,” according to the suit.

Royal Crown Bottling in Evansville, Ind., did not immediately return a call for comment on Monday.

Rescuers were able to save 19 horses from the blaze, which burned for more than two hours.

The horses were being kept at a stable at the former Riverside Downs race track after Ellis Park closed for training. It was the third fire in just over four years at the property.

A fire in December 2003 killed 22 horses in a barn at the nearby boarding and training facility. The cause of that fire was determined to be electrical.

Hancock asked the court for unspecified punitive and compensatory damages.

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