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COONEY v. AMERICAN HORSE SHOWS ASSN.

April 3, 1980

William P. COONEY, Plaintiff,
v.
AMERICAN HORSE SHOWS ASSOCIATION, INC., Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: CANNELLA

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

The defendant's motion for summary judgment is granted. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56.

FACTS

 Plaintiff, a horse trainer who is a member of defendant American Horse Shows Association, Inc. ("AHSA"), brings this antitrust action challenging his suspension pursuant to certain disciplinary regulations of the defendant. Specifically, he contends that the defendant's "Rule on Drugs and Medication" ("Drug Rule") creates a standard of liability which is unreasonable and arbitrary, and therefore violates sections one and two of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 1, 2, and the common law of New York.

 The AHSA is a not-for-profit membership organization organized under the laws of New York, for the purpose of promoting the best interests and fairness of shows and competitions recognized by it. To achieve this goal, the AHSA promulgates and enforces rules governing competitions. Affidavit of James J. Fallon at 2 (filed Oct. 25, 1978).

 The regulation challenged in this action, Rule III, Part 1, Section 5, prohibits the administration of forbidden drugs and medications to horses participating in shows. In pertinent part the rule provides:

 
No horse shall be shown in any class at a show recognized by the Association if it has been administered in any manner any forbidden substance. A forbidden substance is any stimulant, depressant, tranquilizer or local anesthetic which might affect the performance of a horse (stimulants and depressants are defined as medications which stimulate or depress the circulatory, respiratory, or central nervous systems).
 
Trainers in the absence of substantial evidence to the contrary are responsible for a horse's condition and to know all the rules and regulations of the Association, and, the penalty provisions of said rules.
 
A trainer of a horse found to have received such forbidden substance shall be subject to whatever penalty is assessed by the Hearing Committee and may be fined no more than $ 1,000.00 and may be suspended from all competition in recognized shows for a period of one year for the first offense, said suspension to be served at any time at the discretion of the Hearing Committee. The horse may be suspended for any period of time specified by the Hearing Committee.

 American Horse Shows Association Rule III, Part 1, Section 5(a), (c), (d). *fn1" On September 28, 1978, plaintiff was suspended from participating in recognized shows for two months and fined $ 300.00 for violating this rule.

 The facts surrounding plaintiff's suspension are as follows: In January, 1978, plaintiff was employed as a trainer of show horses and riders by Hunterdon, Inc., a training facility located in Pittstown, New Jersey. He was retained to train a horse named Gozzi, which participated in the Pine Hill Riding Center Competition in Framingham, Massachusetts, on April 23, 1978. Plaintiff was present at the show, and was responsible for the preparation of Gozzi and his owner-rider, Bonnie Blake, for the competition. Gozzi and his rider won every competition in which they were entered. In accordance with its regular testing program, and with plaintiff's consent, representatives of the AHSA took blood samples from Gozzi for the purpose of determining whether any foreign drugs had been administered. The test indicated that Gozzi had received an injection of reserpine, a prohibited drug which has a tranquilizing effect on the animal.

 On May 30, 1978, plaintiff was notified by the AHSA that charges had been filed against him alleging that he had violated the AHSA's Drug Rule. *fn2" He was informed that a hearing would be scheduled, and that his attorney could represent him at the hearing. The hearing was held on September 27, 1978, but plaintiff's counsel did not attend. At the hearing, evidence was produced that reserpine was present in the blood of Gozzi at the time of the competition. Plaintiff testified that he was present at the competition, and as trainer was responsible for the condition and performance of Gozzi, and further that he knew the rule regarding trainer responsibility. He denied, however, any responsibility for or knowledge of the drugging, and further stated that he had detected no change in the horse's condition that would have alerted him to the drugging.

 The day following the hearing, the Hearing Committee, which consisted of five persons, none of whom were active trainers who compete with plaintiff, unanimously decided to suspend and fine the plaintiff. In a letter to plaintiff, the Committee noted that in deciding upon an appropriate penalty it took into account that there was no evidence that plaintiff administered or knew of the administration of the prohibited substance. The letter further states: "The Committee also noted, however, the standard of responsibility required of trainers under the provisions of Rule III, Part 1, Section 5(b) and (c) and that no substantial evidence was introduced at the hearing to indicate that you, as trainer, were not responsible for the condition of the horse "GOZZI" at the Pine Hill Horse Show." Affidavit of Edward S. Bonnie at 5 (filed October 28, 1978).

 During the period of plaintiff's suspension, from October 2 to December 2, 1978, the regulations of the AHSA required all sponsors and managers of AHSA recognized horse shows to bar his participation. On October 20, 1978, plaintiff instituted the present action. In his original complaint, plaintiff sought both temporary and preliminary relief enjoining his suspension. The Court denied plaintiff's application for a preliminary injunction, finding that plaintiff failed to make a clear showing of threat of ...


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