NHBPA Again Goes to Court to Try and Halt May 22 ADMC Launch

With another appeal in the pipeline for its constitutionality lawsuit that is trying to derail the  Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA), the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (NHBPA) has once again asked a federal judge in Texas to grant in injunction that would delay the May 22 implementation of the HISA Authority’s Anti-Doping and Medication Control (ADMC) program.

The motion for injunction pending appeal was filed on Friday, one day after United States District Court Judge James Wesley Hendrix ruled that the revamped version of HISA that got signed into law back in December was indeed constitutional, clearing the way for the ADMC’s thrice-delayed launch.

On Monday, May 8, Hendrix sped along the litigation process by ordering the defendants in the case, who are personnel from the HISA Authority and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), to file a response to the NHBPA’s injunction request by Thursday, May 11.

“The Court previously denied injunctive relief, but the plaintiffs again request an injunction, arguing that they will be injured by the ADMC rule during the pendency of an expected appeal,” Hendrix wrote.

The May 5 filing by the NHBPA explained the reasoning behind the request this way:

“An injunction is necessary because the industry cannot endure ‘seismic change’ in the short term that is undone shortly thereafter. The courts should not put the industry on a roller-coaster where the ADMC rules are in effect from May 22 to, say, Nov. 18 (the date of the last Fifth Circuit decision), and then they go out of effect again if the Fifth Circuit finds the amended law unconstitutional.”

The NHBPA filing continued:

“This Court has now considered the case a second time, and again the Court has upheld the act. Though the Court ultimately concluded the Horsemen did not present a winning case, it should conclude that at minimum they presented a substantial case, which is less than successful, but more than non-negligible.

“[The NHBPA] won at the Fifth Circuit last time around, with arguments the Sixth Circuit panel would have also adopted as to the original version [of the HISA law]. They have returned to this Court with a serious case as to the amended version of the statute. Though they did not win, they have at least established a ‘fair prospect’ or reasonable possibility of success on appeal…”

“Moreover, the Horsemen have presented additional arguments concerning the budget and the original meaning which also plausibly demonstrate that the FTC does not have pervasive surveillance and control over the Authority,” the May 5 filing stated.

Hendrix was the same judge who, back on March 31, 2022, dismissed the NHBPA’s underlying lawsuit. The NHBPA plaintiffs appealed that decision, leading to the Fifth Circuit’s reversal on Nov. 18, 2022. But the Fifth Circuit remanded the case back to the Lubbock Division for “further proceedings consistent with” the Appeals Court’s reversal. Hendrix’s May 6, 2023, order validated the newer version of HISA that got amended and passed into law back on Dec. 29, 2022.

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