Whilst many believed that the NJ Horsemen saga was nearing its conclusion, just as we wrote back in June, the latest filing from the sports leagues in response to the New Jersey Thoroughbred Association’s damages claims, could see the case drag on for even more time.
We’ve been reporting on this case for some time now and its genesis can be found in 2014 when the sports leagues pushed for a temporary restraining order on Monmouth Park Racetrack, taking the state and then-Governor Chris Christie to court in order to block the sportsbook from opening.
The major sports leagues put up a bond of $3.4 million which was set to cover the costs of lost revenue. The NJ horsemen sued for lost revenue and damages in 2018 after a Supreme Court overturned the prohibition on gambling in 2018, some 42 months after the restraining order was placed on the sports book at Monmouth Park Racetrack.
Supreme Court Failure fuels the NJ Horsemen Saga
At the beginning of the year we heard that the Third Circuit Court of Appeals were on the side of the horsemen, favoring them 2:1 and that prompted the sports leagues to push to take the case to the Supreme Court, which we discussed back in early March. The Supreme Court however decided in May that they would not intervene in the case and that it would go back to the federal court in New Jersey, and the NJ horsemen saga continued.
The leagues are, as many would anticipate, pushing back hard on both the claims for the $3.4 million owed and the further $150 million which the New Jersey Thoroughbred Association are seeking in this case. We reported on Jan 15th that the sports leagues were looking to settle the case, with the Supreme Court being their plan B. The attempt to take the case to the Supreme Court was an ambitious play by the leagues but despite its failure there is still much that the leagues are looking to do in order to avoid paying the horsemen.
On June 13th the leagues filed a motion to dismiss the claims for the $150 million and to oppose the horsemen’s motion for an immediate judgement for the bond money. The league’s attorney states that the horsemen do not automatically get the bond money, after the federal appellate court indicated that the NJTHA would need to prove three case in district court. The leagues argue the following on this:
“Just as it did when it first sought relief under the bond in 2018, NJTHA wrongly contends that it is entitled to automatic recovery of the full bond amount (plus interest) without discovery or having to prove its actual damages in subsequent proceedings. NJTHA’s argument is meritless, if not frivolous, in numerous respects”
The reason why this NJ horsemen saga continues is that there are many aspects of both the case and the decision which the leagues can appeal, and they are of course using the full extent of the law in order to do this. They believe that the claims of $150 million in damages is “false, if not extraordinarily disingenuous” and they strongly deny any claims which have been made suggesting that they acted in bad faith.
Back in Your Court
The coming months and years looks set to be the second half of what many considered to be a completed court case, we have a new judge on board in Judge Freda Wolfson who took over the case last month, and the leagues have certainly pull the ball back in the court of the horsemen who now must ensure that they have irrefutable data which supports the claim of how much they are owed in damages.
Regardless of the ruling of the Third Circuit Court, it would appear that the NJ horsemen saga is not only going to continue, but that the horsemen themselves may not be as content with how things are going as they were 12 months ago.