Sports Leagues Object to Sept. Damages Ruling that Favored NJTHA


Monmouth Park | Sarah Andrew


A collective of pro and college sports leagues on Oct. 8 asked the United States Court of Appeals (Third Circuit) for an “en banc review” into the precedent-setting ruling last month that apparently cleared the way for the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association (NJTHA) to collect at least $3.4 million in damages escrowed when the leagues tried to block Monmouth Park’s initial attempts at getting sports betting up and running earlier this decade.

According to the website Law 360, the four major U.S. pro sports leagues and one college sports regulatory body (NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and NCAA) are now arguing that because the federal law known as the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) was considered constitutionally valid in 2014 when the case began, it was erroneous for a panel of judges to declare in a Sep. 24, 2019, ruling that the NJTHA had the right all along to take sports bets.

In May 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down PASPA, which had prohibited betting in all but a few grandfathered states.

That Supreme Court decision could not have been anticipated at the time the initial injunction was issued to prohibit the NJTHA from taking sports bets at Monmouth, the leagues argued in their Tuesday court filing.

In its Sep. 24 decision, the Third Circuit panel of judges found that because Monmouth had been unlawfully subjected to the no-sports-betting injunction for 28 days, that it was “wrongfully enjoined,” which the ruling defined as when a party “had a right all along to do what is was enjoined from doing.”

When TDN last reported on this case after the Third Circuit ruling that favored the NJTHA, the issue was how much the horsemen might be able to collect above and beyond the $3.4-million bond amount in alleged damages. The NJTHA had argued in the past that they are entitled to far more in damages.

Now it appears as if the en banc review must be adjudicated first. In law, an en banc session refers to a case being heard before all the judges of a court and not just a panel of judges selected from that court.

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