Judge Awards Rattner $1.75M Judgment against Horse Trainer Declan Orpen

Judge Awards Rattner $1.75M Judgment against Horse Trainer Declan Orpen

A New York judge awarded a $1.75 million default judgment last week to American financier Steven Rattner against his former horse trainer, Declan Orpen.

Manhattan Supreme Court Justice O. Peter Sherwood granted the plaintiffs’ motion based on Orpen’s failure to appear in the action, breach of fiduciary duty, breach of contract, and negligent misrepresentation.

Rattner filed suit against Orpen and Declan Orpen Show Stables, Inc. in June 2014. Orpen was employed by the plaintiffs from 2004 until 2012 as a horse trainer and eventually the manager of Monomoy Farm located in North Salem.

The suit alleges Orpen failed to disclose his financial interests when engaging contractors on behalf of the plaintiffs; demanded and received kickbacks for himself and others from contractors and realtors who performed work for plaintiffs; accepted side payments for the purchase of investment horses without disclosing or distributing the funds to the plaintiffs, per their contract; and negligently misrepresented whether work performed on plaintiffs’ property complied with applicable safety and building regulations.

Although Orpen, an Irish citizen, was personally served, he never responded to the complaint. By failing to do so, the judge’s decision states he conceded to the allegations.

Under the “faithless servant” doctrine, Judge Sherwood opined the plaintiffs established Orpen’s liability. “Orpen owed plaintiffs fiduciary duties of loyalty and good faith as plaintiffs’ employee and agent…” Orpen forfeited any compensation previously received, including salary and commissions, which totaled more than $585,000 during his employment.

Once the disposition is final, Rattner has the task of collecting his more than $1,754,700, which may prove futile.

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