Court Dismisses Gill Lawsuit Against Jockeys

Horse owner will not be able to pursue a similar case against riders in the future.

A United States district court has dismissed with prejudice a lawsuit brought by Thoroughbred owner Michael Gill against jockeys at Penn National Race Course.

The "with prejudice" status assigned by the court means Gill will not be allowed to pursue a similar case against the jockeys in the future. The court dismissed the case after Gill sent a letter requesting he be dismissed from the suit.

In January 2010, riders at Penn National cited safety concerns in refusing to ride horses for Gill. Jockeys cited breakdowns involving Gill's horses among the reasons for not riding his horses or competing in races against them. Regulators took no action against the riders and in February 2010 ejected Gill and his trainer Anthony Adamo from Penn National.

In ejecting Gill, who once piled up so many wins with his massive stable that he secured an Eclipse Award, the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission said it had received "multiple reports" that the presence of Gill and Adamo caused disruptions at Penn National, located near Harrisburg. In its decision, the commission cited letters received from Penn National management, jockeys, and the Pennsylvania Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association.

In its dismissal of Gill's civil suit against the riders, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania noted that the case has failed to move forward since it was filed in December 2010. After surviving a motion to dismiss, the litigation has seen numerous stays, continuances, and extensions.

"In short, given the nature of Gill's request for voluntary dismissal and the extent to which this suit has progressed, the court finds that the dismissal with prejudice is appropriate," said the court.

In his letter requesting dismissal, Gill cited mounting costs and an inability to find a lawyer to handle the case. Gill said the case was a means to clear his name and, "it was not to bankrupt or financially ruin any of the jockeys."

Gill and Adamo also sued the PHRC over their ouster, claiming their civil rights were violated. But in October a U.S. District Court ruled in favor of the PHRC.

According to the Patriot-News, Adamo, who was named as a co-plaintiff in the lawsuit against the Penn National jockeys, plans to continue his case against the riders.