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Alvarez v. Hayward

July 18, 2006

MANUEL S. ALVAREZ, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CHARLES HAYWARD, WILLIAM NADER, AND THE NEW YORK STATE RACING ASSOCIATION, INC., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Scullin, Senior Judge

MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

Currently before the Court is Plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction, in which he asks the Court to order Defendants to reinstate his New York Racing Association ("NYRA") credential and to cease barring him from his place of employment at the Saratoga Race Course. In support of his motion, Plaintiff argues that Defendants violated his rights to due process under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution by "deny[ing] him his NYRA credential, without a hearing." See Dkt. No. 1 at ¶ 23. Specifically, Plaintiff contends that he "had a constitutionally protected property interest in . . . his [New York State Racing and Wagering Board] license . . . [and that] Defendants' action in denying [him] his NYRA credential and barring [him] from . . . Saratoga Race Course effectively deprived [him] of . . . the benefit of his license . . . ." See id. at ¶¶ 21-22. Defendants oppose this motion on the ground that Plaintiff cannot demonstrate either irreparable harm or a likelihood of success on the merits of his due process claims.

II. DISCUSSION

A. Preliminary Injunction Standard

It is well-established that to obtain a preliminary injunction, a party must show "(a) that it will suffer irreparable harm in the absence of an injunction and (b) either (i) a likelihood of success on the merits or (ii) sufficiently serious questions going to the merits to make them a fair ground for litigation and a balance of hardships tipping decidedly in the movant's favor."

Buric v. Kelly, No. 03 Civ. 9376, 2003 WL 22990082, *4 (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 18, 2003) (quoting Tom Doherty Assocs. v. Saban Entertainment, 60 F.3d 27, 33 (2d Cir. 1995)) (footnote omitted).

"A showing of irreparable harm is considered the 'single most important requirement' in satisfying the [preliminary injunction] standard." Ahmad v. Long Island Univ., 18 F. Supp. 2d 245, 247 (E.D.N.Y. 1998) (citations omitted). "'A moving party must show that the injury it will suffer is likely and imminent, not remote or speculative, and that such injury is not capable of being fully remedied by money damages.'" Id. (quotation and other citation omitted).

Furthermore, in those situations in which "the injunction at issue will either alter, rather than maintain the status quo, or provide the movant with substantially all the relief sought, and that relief cannot be undone at trial, the injunction will be characterized as 'mandatory' rather than 'prohibitory.'" Pinckney v. Bd. of Educ. of Westbury Union Free Sch. Dist., 920 F. Supp. 393, 399 (E.D.N.Y. 1996) (citing Tom Doherty Assocs., Inc. v. Saban Entertainment, Inc., 60 F.3d 27, 33-34 (2d Cir. 1995)). "If the injunction is 'mandatory,' the movant must make a 'clear' or 'substantial' showing of a 'likelihood of success' on the merits as opposed to a mere 'likelihood.'" Id. (citation omitted).

B. Irreparable Harm

Plaintiff argues that, because he has sufficiently alleged that Defendants violated his constitutional right to due process by failing to provide him with a hearing before revoking his NYRA credential, the Court should presume that he will suffer irreparable harm absent an injunction. See Plaintiff's Memorandum of Law at 7 (citing Rex, Inc. v. Kusha, Inc., 2001 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 2135 *4 (W.D.N.Y. 2001)) (other citation omitted).

To the contrary, Defendants assert that Plaintiff cannot establish irreparable harm because this is essentially a loss-of-employment case and "there is no automatic right to injunctive relief merely because [a plaintiff raises] allegations of constitutional violations . . . in [a] dispute[] over a loss of employment." See Defendants' Memorandum of Law at 7 (citing Savage v. Gorski, 850 F.2d 64, 67 (2d Cir. 1988); Jayaraj v. Scappini, 66 F.3d 36, 38-40 (2d Cir. 1995); Pinckney v. Board of Educ. of the Westbury Union Free School Dist., 920 F. Supp. 393, 400 (E.D.N.Y. 1996)).

It is well-established in this Circuit that the suspension or revocation of NYRA credentials infringes a property interest that is protected under New York state law. See Galvin v. New York Racing Ass'n, 70 F. Supp. 2d 163, 172 (E.D.N.Y.), aff'd without opin., 166 F.3d 1200 (2d Cir. 1998) (citing Jacobson v. New York Racing Ass'n, Inc., 33 N.Y.2d 144, 149-150, 350 N.Y.S.2d 639, 642, 305 N.E.2d 765 (1973), for the proposition that "'[g]iven NYRA's "virtual monopoly power over thoroughbred racing in the State of New York," its decision to exclude a licensee from its tracks "is tantamount to barring [the licensee[]] from the only places in the State where he may ply his trade . . . "'") (citation omitted)).

Defendants do not specifically contest Plaintiff's assertion that he has a property interest in his New York State Racing and Wagering Board license or that, by revoking Plaintiff's NYRA credential, they, in effect, denied him the benefit of that license. Rather, they simply attempt to circumvent this issue by characterizing this action as a loss-of-employment case, which might tangentially involve a constitutional violation. The problem with this argument is that Defendant NYRA is not Plaintiff's employer.*fn1 In fact, Plaintiff's claim against Defendants is distinct from the issue of the termination of his employment, an issue that he arbitrated with his employer, Centerplate, and which resulted in the arbitrator "direct[ing] [Centerplate] to reinstate [Plaintiff] and to make him whole for lost wages and tips." See Plaintiff's Memorandum of Law at Exhibit "C" at 10. Therefore, the Court finds that, because Plaintiff has a property interest in his New York State Racing and ...


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