The Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia, in a ruling filed Nov. 18, has upheld a circuit court decision that seven jockeys ejected from Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races in 2009 have the right to appeal to the West Virginia Racing Commission.
The high court in its ruling notes the power of the state legislature and states that, according to state law, occupational permit-holders ejected from the grounds of a racetrack have the right to appeal to the WVRC.
Charles Town ejected the jockeys for allegedly tampering with weigh-outs after races; the incidents are said to have been captured on video. The jockeys were suspended for 30 days and fined, but they filed for an injunction in circuit court pending proper notice and hearing in front of Charles Town stewards.
Kanawha County Circuit Court granted the stay. Charles Town didn’t appeal the ruling within a specific period of time, something noted by the high court.
The WVRC, in the jockey case and others, has attempted to defend its powers under state law. The agency has said it believes it has the right by law to conduct hearings regarding ejections from racetracks.
The high court acknowledged a racetrack’s right to eject people under common law, but also noted a statute that says all ejected parties are entitled to a hearing before the racing commission.
The high court cited statutory language that states “no association shall conduct any horse or dog race meeting at which horse or dog racing is permitted for any purse unless such association possesses a license from the West Virginia Racing Commission and complies with the provisions of this article and all reasonable rules and regulations of such racing commission.”