HISA Authority Challenges 'Piggyback' Strategy in Amended Louisiana Lawsuit

Sarah K. Andrew

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The recently amended federal lawsuit spearheaded by the state of Louisiana against the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA) Authority and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is facing a new challenge from the HISA Authority defendants, who filed a Mar. 6 motion to strike the latest version of the complaint based on allegations that the plaintiffs are “improperly” attempting to use federal rules of civil procedure to turn the case to their advantage.

The chief beef in the HISA Authority's Mar. 6 “motion to strike” filed in U.S. District Court (Western District of Louisiana) centers on the addition of an expanded slate of new plaintiffs to the lawsuit initially filed on June 29, 2022.

The plaintiffs had amended that complaint on Feb. 6, 2023, and changes to the lawsuit included the addition of 14 new individual Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA) affiliates, plus a wide swath of states, racing commissions, and individual racetracks.

“Plaintiffs, having obtained a preliminary injunction from this Court that redresses their alleged harms, now seek to add a 'vast number of organizations' and States as new plaintiffs in a blatant attempt to 'extend the injunction nationwide,'” the HISA Authority's Monday filing stated.

These new plaintiffs, the HISA Authority's motion stated, “have already been litigating challenges to HISA in other federal courts for almost two years. Plaintiffs' gamesmanship is transparent. Their tactic? To use [federal civil procedure rules] to dodge [the legal] standard that dooms the pending intervention motion these same would-be parties previously filed now that the Court has issued a preliminary injunction in Plaintiffs' favor.”

The HISA Authority's motion continued: “Their strategy? To use the geographic 'range, literally from coast-to-coast,' of the new parties as justification for a shotgun request that the Court 'extend the injunctive relief currently in effect to provide nationwide relief.' Their end goal? To dismantle nationwide regulatory reforms that Congress recently amended and reaffirmed after the Fifth Circuit's opinion reinstating the preliminary injunction.

“Allowing the would-be parties–representing thousands of industry members from across the country–to piggyback on the favorable relief Plaintiffs already secured would undermine principles of justice, encourage forum shopping, prejudice Defendants, and set a dangerous precedent for future litigants looking to parlay any single plaintiff's preliminary win into an expansive nationwide class action that topples congressionally mandated regulations before any briefing on dispositive motions.”

That outcome, the HISA Authority argued, “is particularly unwarranted given that a prior stay order entered by the Fifth Circuit and intervening administrative actions by the FTC (on top of Congress's recent amendment reinforcing its commitment to the HISA regime) cast substantial doubt on the continued viability of the claims underlying the preliminary injunction presently in effect.”

The HISA Authority summed up: “The Court should strike Plaintiffs' amended complaint-at least as to the addition of the 'vast number' of new parties seeking to expand the existing relief into a nationwide preliminary injunction.”

The plaintiffs, back on Feb. 6, articulated the revised version of the lawsuit this way:

“This First Amended Complaint seeks to prevent HISA from continuing to exercise 'unchecked government power' through its FTC-approved rules or any other rules that the FTC may approve now that the Fifth Circuit has issued its mandate [in a separate, but related, case headed by the National HBPA].

“The broad collection of plaintiffs from around the country further justifies Plaintiffs' request for nationwide injunctive relief herein,” the plaintiffs' amended complaint continued.

“And this Court has already recognized that the challenged HISA rules offend the Administrative Procedure Act and HISA's statutory authority,” the plaintiffs stated.

“The Fifth Circuit has further cemented the rightfulness of that decision by rejecting Defendants' appeal of the preliminary injunction order and denying Defendants' requests for additional appellate review in this case that came after Congress tweaked the HISA Act, just as the Fifth Circuit did in [the National HBPA appeal],” the plaintiffs' amended complaint stated.

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