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Friday, January 6, 2012

Who Didn't See This Coming?

HRU reports Lou Pena has sued Jeff Gural, the New Meadowlands LLC, NJSEA, Dennis Robinson, and Racing Secretary Peter Koch.  In other words, anyone he could think of.  No doubt if this involved Yonkers Raceway, Joe Faraldo's Aunt Tilly would have been named in the suit.  On Monday, he will be asking for a temporary injunction requiring the Meadowlands to accept his entries until his case his heard.  The one surprise may be that instead of suing in state court, Pena's attorney has decided to sue in the United States District Court, a smart move by his counsel as New Jersey is part of the third circuit which includes Pennsylvania and Delaware; racing states which have slot revenue.  If this case gets to the court of appeals and is decided in his favor, it will preclude any racetrack in Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania from excluding him. 

Basically, this case will be a battle between Pena's "Constitutionally protected property rights in the license duly issued to him by the NJRC" and Gural's constitutionally protected rights as a private property owner.

Of course, we are not the only ones to see this coming.  As certain as water is wet, Jeff Gural knew this lawsuit was coming and money is not going to be an issue forcing a settlement, at least as far as Gural is concerned. My guess (which not being a lawyer means I have as good a chance of being wrong as right) is while the case may not be dismissed, the temporary injunction will be denied.  After all, Freehold, another track in New Jersey, has not banished Pena so there is still value in his NJRC license.  In addition Pena is allowed to race in New York, Pennsylvania, and Delaware so he is not being denied the opportunity to earn a living.  Something in Gural's favor is why didn't Pena make the same argument when Yonkers had excluded him; after all didn't he have property rights from the NYSRWB?  Didn't he lose clients back then?  Why is he making the argument in New Jersey when the purses are small when compared to Yonkers?  Certainly his New York license has more value to him than his New Jersey license. 

In addition, I have to believe exclusionary rights have been previously litigated in courts, though perhaps not in the third circuit.  A temporary injunction will only be issued if the court feels there is a reasonable chance that Pena's argument will end up being victorious and he is suffering from immediate damage.  If a temporary injunction is issued, there is a reasonable chance that any trainer banned by the will be allowed to race at the Meadowlands during this case.  Let's hope this does not happen.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Previous court decisions have favored the business operator. I believe this is the first time where there is a private race track operator on publicly owned property.

My opinion: It shouldn't make a difference and Mr. Gural should prevail, but it's the court's opinion that will count.