The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals on August 8 partially approved and partially denied a stay of the July 26 preliminary injunction issued by a lower court against the enforcement of federal horse racing regulations. in Louisiana and West Virginia.
The ruling was made on the merits of the case after the stay order was issued last week, allowing the appeals court more time to study the legal issues. The states of Louisiana and West Virginia filed the lawsuit along with the Jockeys’ Guild and others on June 30.
Noting that the Western District Court of Louisiana, USA found problems with only a handful of rules enforced by the Equestrian Safety and Integrity Authority, the court of appeal largely sided with HISA requested a moratorium on the ban, but the three HISA Rules will continue to be in effect, at least temporarily, into the future.
“We petition to uphold the order with respect to all regulations except the following: Rules 8400 and 8510 and two provisions of Rule 2010,” the court wrote.
Rule 8400 gives HISA broad investigative powers and the power to seize documents suspected of misconduct. For now, the 8400 rule is suspended in Louisiana and West Virginia. The Court of Appeal did not explain why. Whether the rule is legally enforceable in other states is likely to remain private and may temporarily depend on a district court ruling.
Rule 8510 is the defining portion of the methodology that governs the HISA rule for determining assessments of HISA-regulated fees from states. Those fees fund HISA’s operations. Definitions include wallet as a factor in determining the rating a state pays for. Louisiana and West Virginia argued that the use of the wallet as an element violated federal permitting law. Critics of this argument point out that the resulting calculation actually reduces the fees charged by the two states. In other words, no harm is no foul.
The 2010 Rules are part of the definition of a track safety program. The Court of Appeals upheld the preliminary injunction to sections 3 and 4 of the definition, where the relevant section states, “Protected horse means any thoroughbred horse or any horse any other action taken under the Act by electing to apply the State Racing Commission or the governing body thereof, commencing with the preceding of: (3) the date the Horse entered the Covered Race and ( 4) Nominated Horses Covered Horse Racing “… Again, the appeals court did not explain its reasoning.
None of the Fifth Code rulings are based on constitutional considerations. Like the federal district court, the appeals court took up what it called the “insufficient 14-day notice period” for stakeholders to submit comments on and against the proposed safety rules. by HISA. The comment period lasts 30 days but can be shortened when there are enough impressions.
HISA’s appeal to the preliminary order was expedited by a panel of three Fifth Circuit judges in oral arguments in September 2022.
The issue of HISA equestrian safety rules, and in which states they apply and do not, are not addressed in the Fifth Circuit order. The order placed a lower court injunction with the exception of rules 8400, 8510, and parts of the 2010 rule, with no rules related to pranks.