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Wage Judgment Against Asmussen Stable Totals Over $486K

Following protracted litigation, trainer Steve Asmussen’s racing stable was held liable by a federal district court in Kentucky for wage and hour law violations totaling more than $486,000 in actual and liquidated damages.

The judgment entered March 4 follows a decision in a prior action in the same court that tagged Asmussen’s KDE Equine for failing to pay employees overtime wages of $211,541.76 over a period of two years. Federal law has a two-year statute of limitations for such violations except when they are willful, when the law allows a three-year lookback. Asmussen prevailed on the willfulness issue in the first round of the lawsuit.

Both sides appealed to the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which in January 2023 found against Asmussen in two ways. The government’s judgment on the two-year overtime issue was affirmed, and the issue of willfulness was sent back to district court for further handling.

A finding of willful violation would not only allow the government a three-year lookback on the violation period, it would also entitle employees to liquidated damages equaling the amount of actual damages.

That was the outcome yesterday. U.S. District Judge Claria Horn Boom assessed an additional penalty of $31,718.37 for a third year of operations, bringing the total to $243,260.13. An equally damaging part of the judgment, however, is the addition of liquidated damages in the same amount, doubling the judgment to $486,520.26

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