Harness-race driver sues Harrah's Philadelphia for horrific race track crash

A harness-racing driver, not pictured, suffered what lawyers claim is traumatic and irrevocable brain damage in a high-speed crash at Harrah's Philadelphia Race Track, pictured, on Nov. 17, 2013. (Charles Fox / Staff Photographer)

The parents of a harness-racing driver severely injured in a crash at Harrah's Philadelphia Race Track in Chester last year has sued the track and its owners, Harrah's and its parent company Caesars Entertainment Corp.

Anthony Coletta, of Hammonton, N.J., suffered what lawyers claim is traumatic and irrevocable brain damage in the terrifying high-speed crash on the track Nov. 17, 2013. Video of the wreck showed Coletta thrown high into the air after his sulky — the vehicle attached by harness to the race horse — collided with another sulky and horse.

Coletta suffered "horrific and catastrophic" injuries, including what the lawsuit described as "profound abnormalities indictative of severe and permanent brain damage," in a crash his family's lawyer contends was preventable.

"The defendants, including track owners Caesars/Harrah’s turned a blind eye when it came to track maintenance and they permitted an unreasonably dangerous condition to exist at the exact location where the chain-reaction accident began," Philadelphia attorney Michael Barrett said in a statement Monday. "Anthony Coletta would now be preparing for the spring racing card — not fighting to regain some semblance of a normal life — had it not been for the track’s utter disregard for safety and human life."

Coletta is currently at Kessler Rehabilitation Center in New Jersey.

A lawyer for Harrah's could not be reached by Philly.com for comment, but he told the Associated Press he had not seen the lawsuit and would not immediately comment.

The lawsuit claims that the track's condition, particularly at locations of the first and third turns, had deteriorated over time and went unfixed.

"Numerous disturbing accounts have surfaced regarding years of Harrah's Philadelphia and Caesars turning a blind eye to track maintenance, despite reports to management of an unreasonably dangerous condition at the exact location where [the horse Coletta was riding] 'rocknmyjeans' fell," the suit claims.

Coletta's parents seek in excess of $50,000 in damages.

Contact Brian X. McCrone at 215-854-2267 or bmccrone@philly.com. Follow @brianxmccrone on Twitter.

Contact the Breaking News Desk at 215-854-2443; BreakingNewsDesk@philly.com. Follow @phillynews on Twitter.