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Judge: Adamo, Gill Can Sue PHRC

Published: March 15, 2011 2:06 pm ET

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According to a report, a federal judge in the United States has ruled that thoroughbred horse owner Michael Gill and trainer Anthony Adamo can sue racing commissioners in Pennsylvania in regard to having been banned from running their horses at Penn National Race Course in early 2010.

An article on courthousenews.com states that Adamo and Gill cited civil rights violations in their suit against six past and present officials with the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission.

According to the report, the commission had banned the duo on the basis that they were racing horses which were unsound and thus dangerous. The commission had also taken the position that the pair could not present a feasible civil rights claim based on the merits of due process because as licensees they did not hold property rights (the commission took the position that the licenses were a privilege, not a right).

U.S. District Judge Sylvia Rambo did not agree.

"Defendants' argument that the language of the statute expressly precludes a procedural due process claim is somewhat perplexing in light of the hearing rights guaranteed to a licensee facing ejection," Rambo wrote. She went on to say, "The state law has engendered a clear expectation of continued enjoyment of the licenses absent proof of culpable conduct by plaintiffs. This is enough to create a property interest in plaintiffs' licenses, notwithstanding the statutory language to the contrary."

In January, 2010, twenty-five jockeys at Penn National Race Course banded together and refused to ride in races in which Gill-owned horses were participating. The jockeys stated that the form of the Gill-owned horses were putting them at risk. A number of Gill's horses had been euthanized after having been involved in accidents over the Penn National course.

"You cannot believe how worried we are for our own safety and the safety of all the horses," jockey Thomas Clifton was quoted as saying afterward.

"I tell everybody: They can go to my farm, my barn, they can inspect every one of my horses," Gill was quoted as saying. "I never ask for any special treatment. All I ask for is to be treated fairly."

(With files from courthousenews.com)

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