The opinion of the court was delivered by: SWEET
Defendant American Horse Shows Association, Inc. (the "Association") has made its third motion to dismiss this antitrust action brought by Ashley Meadows Farm, Inc. (the "Farm"), this time for summary judgment under Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. Upon the findings and conclusions set forth below, the motion will be granted on the grounds that the Farm lacks standing.
The Association was organized under the laws of New York in 1917 and has become the national equestrian federation of the United States. Its membership is comprised of approximately 2,000 recognized horse shows and more than 40,000 individual members. The Association does not operate horse shows. From time to time the Association prints its Constitution and Rules which govern recognized horse show competitions.
The Farm is a corporation organized in 1979 which has owned and operated a number of house shows recognized by the Association every year since 1980. The Farm, whose president and operator is Dolores A. Swann ("Mrs. Swann"), has operated its shows at a facility in Berwyn, Pennsylvania.
According to the Association, "this litigation has wandered without clear direction for nearly three years." This perigrination is worth recording, representing as it does a classic example of the difficulties presented in achieving an efficient disposition of litigation. Energetic and ingenious counsel, both present and past, have overlooked no opportunity to employ their skills, and the disposition of the action has been delayed by discovery disputes and motion practice despite the resolution by the court of each issue raised by the parties. Positions of the parties have shifted and the issues sensitive to each of the parties have been thoroughly explored. The process has been exhaustive, presumably expensive and has been guided, as it must be, by the litigative strategies of the parties, including the Association's instant motion for summary judgment on the eve of trial after all discovery has been completed.
The initial complaint was filed on August 27, 1982, alleging prima facie tort committed by the Association and its secretary, Ira Finkelstein,[sic] against the Farm and its president Mrs. Swann. The complaint arose out of the Farm's claim regarding the alleged denial of certain procedural rights in connection with the Association's imposition of a $500 fine for the Farm's failure to provide ambulance service at one of its horse shows. Although the suit was scheduled for a pretrial conference on November 30, 1982, the court was advised a settlement had been reached and the action was dismissed on December 2, 1982, only to be reopened later at the request of the litigants.
In February, 1983, the Farm filed an amended complaint alleging the antitrust violations which have remained at issue to the present. In response, the Association and Ira Finklestein [sic] moved to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. By opinion of September 29, 1983, the motion was granted as to Finklestein [sic] and denied as to the Association. At the end of 1983, the Association requested and was granted a substitution of counsel. Shortly thereafter, the Farm requested an entry of judgment for failure to answer timely the amended complaint. The entry of default was eventually set aside upon the motion brought by the Association's new counsel.
On January 31, 1984, the parties requested additional time in order to complete motions and discovery and to pursue settlement. The request was granted and a deadline of June 11, 1984 was ordered, not to be extended except by motion. By May discovery disputes had arisen requiring a court conference for resolution. A trial date of July 2 was set. On June 19, 1984 the Association moved for summary judgment. After an adjournment by consent the motion was eventually granted as to Mrs. Swann and denied at to the Farm by the opinion dated September 20, 1984. In denying summary judgment seeking dismissal of the Farm's complaint for lack of standing, the opinion stated:
Given the availability to [the Farm] of its own financial statements and its asserted intention to introduce evidence of the profitability of horse shows of the category and scale which [the Farm] had desired to sponsor, the rigorous showing necessary to grant a summary judgment motion has not been satisfied.
A further order set November 28, 1984 as the deadline for completion of discovery and by December 9 a pretrial order had been submitted and modified. The Association responded by seeking to stay completion of discovery until February 2, 1985. The court was then advised that the action was settled, and later that it was not. On February 4, 1985, the Farm moved for summary judgment. The hearing on the Farm's motion was adjourned on consent and by opinion of May 10, 1985 it was denied. A deadline of July 16 was set for the completion of discovery and the submission of a pretrial order. The instant motion was filed on July 3, 1985 and heard by consent of the parties on July 26. Rather than wandering without direction, this action has been detoured by last minute diversions as set forth above, of which the instant motion is simply the latest and the most successful.
The question of standing and the degree of injury necessary to confer it has already been considered by the court once before, prior to the completion of discovery and submission of a pretrial order clarifying the proof anticipated by both the Association and the Farm. Under the peculiar and particular circumstances here presented and described below, it is now apparent that the Farm will not present any ...