Precedential Younger Abstention Decision Obtained by Partners John Pellecchia and Jim Meyer
Riker Danzig partners John Pellecchia and Jim Meyer led our efforts to secure a precedential decision on behalf of long-time clients ACRA Turf Club, LLC and Freehold Raceway Off Track, LLC. The U.S. Court of Appeals, Third Circuit, decision restricts the ability of federal courts to decline to adjudicate matters over which they have jurisdiction simply because of the existence of a pending civil or administrative state court case in which the federal claims might be raised, a heretofore common practice.
In ACRA Turf Club¸ ACRA and Freehold filed suit in federal court challenging the constitutionality of 2011 amendments to the Off-Track and Account Wagering Act, which was enacted in 2002 to allow limited off-track betting on horse races. The federal district court declined to hear the case based on the Younger abstention doctrine. The Circuit Court held that Younger applies only in state proceedings that are quasi-criminal, that ACRA Turf Club v. Zanzuccki did not meet that standard and, therefore, the district court’s decision to abstain was incorrect.
“ACRA and Freehold are pleased that the Third Circuit has recognized the district court’s obligation to adjudicate their lawsuit,” John stated.
Read the April 3rd New Jersey Law Journal story at 3rd Circ. Revives Challenge to NJ Off-Track Betting Law.