Original Jurisdiction in case of Vincent Tulio and T-T Stable, Owner of "Two Lines" v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, State Horse Racing Commission et al.
John L. Heaton, with him Thomas J. Bender, Jr., Dilworth, Paxson, Kalish & Kauffman, for petitioners.
Michael L. Harvey, Deputy Attorney General, with him Allen C. Warshaw, Deputy Attorney General, Chief of Special Litigation, and LeRoy S. Zimmerman, Attorney General, for respondents.
Judges Williams, Jr., Doyle and Barbieri, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Barbieri.
[ 79 Pa. Commw. Page 307]
Presently before this Court are preliminary objections raised by the respondents in this action to that part of a petition for review filed by the petitioner addressed to this Court's original jurisdiction wherein the petitioner seeks injunctive relief and money damages under Section 1 of the Civil Rights Act of 1871, 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
On December 23, 1981, the state veterinarian at the Keystone Race track placed the petitioner's horse "Two Lines" on the "Veterinarian List" after the horse exhibited abnormal activity following its entry in the sixth race that day. Thereafter, the petitioner attempted to have the horse removed from the list, but was informed by the state veterinarian that the State Horse Racing Commission (Commission) had decided that his horse should remain on the list. A horse placed on the veterinarian list in Pennsylvania cannot race until the horse is once again proven physically sound. See 58 Pa. Code § 163.453.
Upon the petitioner's request, a hearing was scheduled before the Commission which was conducted on November 23, 1982. By a decision and order dated January 24, 1983, the Commission denied the petitioner's request to remove "Two Lines" from the veterinarian list. On February 18, 1983, the petitioner filed with this Court a petition for review addressed to both this Court's appellate and original jurisdictions wherein he has named as the respondent parties, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the State Horse Racing Commission, and Commissioner Joan F. Pew, a
[ 79 Pa. Commw. Page 308]
member of the Commission. The respondents have filed preliminary objections to that part of the petition for review addressed to this Court's original jurisdiction in which the petitioner has requested injunctive relief from the Commission's order, and money damages pursuant to Section 1983. The respondents request that the petitioner's original jurisdiction petition for review be dismissed since (1) the petitioner has a full, complete, and adequate remedy at law in this Court's appellate jurisdiction, (2) that the doctrine of sovereign immunity bars the petitioner's claim for money damages against the Commonwealth and the State Horse Racing Commission, and (3) that the petitioner's claim against Commissioner Joan F. Pew is barred under the doctrine of judicial immunity.*fn1
In addressing the first of the respondents' preliminary objections, we note that in this Commonwealth it is well established that a court of equity lacks jurisdiction to entertain a cause of action for which there exists a full, complete and adequate remedy at law. St. Joe Minerals Corporation v. Goddard, 14 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 624, 324 A.2d 800 (1974) (citing cases). This is particularly true where the remedy at law is set forth in a statute relating to the subject matter of the case. Rankin v. Chester-Upland School District, 11 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 232, 312 A.2d 605 (1973). In determining whether there exists an adequate remedy at law precluding the petitioner from seeking equitable relief, we must first look at the basis for the petitioner's
[ 79 Pa. Commw. Page 309]
petition for review addressed to our original jurisdiction, and determine if under the circumstances alleged there exists a remedy at law, and if so, ...