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RALPH STAINO v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (07/01/86)

decided: July 1, 1986.

RALPH STAINO, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, PENNSYLVANIA STATE HORSE RACING COMMISSION, RESPONDENT



Appeal from the Order of the Pennsylvania State Racing Commission, in case of In Re: Ralph Staino, No. 82-156K.

COUNSEL

Edward A. Rudley, Rudley, Ziccardi & Fioravanti, for petitioner.

John B. Hannum, Jr., with him, Gerald T. Osburn, for respondent.

Samuel E. Dennis, with him, Stewart L. Cohen ; Of Counsel: Meltzer & Schiffrin, for intervenor, Eagle Downs Racing Association.

Judges MacPhail and Palladino, and Senior Judge Barbieri, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Senior Judge Barbieri.

Author: Barbieri

[ 98 Pa. Commw. Page 463]

Ralph Staino appeals here the adjudication of the Pennsylvania State Horse Racing Commission (Commission) dismissing his appeal after being ejected from Keystone Race Track by the Eagle Downs Racing Association.

The Commission, after hearing, found that Mr. Staino was present at Keystone Race Track as a patron on September 29, 1982, when he was served with an ejection notice by a representative of the Eagle Downs Racing Association (Eagle Downs), a licensed corporation. The Commission concluded that, since under Section 215 of the Horse Race Industry Reform Act (Act), Act of December 17, 1981, P.L. 435, 4 P.S. § 325.215, a licensed corporation's authority to eject patrons from the race track is limited only to the extent that the person may not be ejected because of his race, color, creed, sex, national origin or religion, and, since Mr. Staino had not established a prima facie case of ejectment for one or more of the prohibited reasons, his appeal must be dismissed.

Mr. Staino argues on appeal that Section 215 of the Act is vague and unconstitutional, that a race track, because it raises revenue for the state through pari-mutuel betting and because it is closely regulated by the state, is a quasi-public facility whose actions are governed by the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, that he was denied his constitutional right to attend the race track, and that the Commission's findings and conclusions are not supported by the substantial evidence of record.

We address first Mr. Staino's argument that Section 215 of the Act is vague and unconstitutional. We note initially that there is a strong presumption in favor of the constitutionality of statutes and the party challenging a statute's constitutionality has a heavy burden to

[ 98 Pa. Commw. Page 464]

    rebut that presumption, with all doubts resolved in favor of sustaining the legislation. Daly v. Pennsylvania State Horse Racing Commission, 38 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 77, 391 A.2d 1134 (1978). The unconstitutionality of Section 215, according to Mr. Staino, arises from a supposed difference in standards by which the propriety of an ejectment is judged depending upon the stage of the appeal process. Apparently, Mr. Staino believes that an ejection is subject to closer scrutiny at the Commission level than at the race track when the ejection occurs. Unfortunately, Mr. Staino fails to properly analyze the statute. Under Section 215 either the Commission or a licensed corporation may eject a patron from a race track and the actions of each are subject to different standards. Under subsection (b), as we have previously stated, a licensed corporation has carte blanche to eject a patron without cause except that it may not eject a patron because of the patron's race, color, creed, sex, national origin, or religion. Under subsection (a), however, the Commission's authority to eject a patron is restricted to the extent that the Commission must establish that the presence of the person whom the Commission wishes to eject "is, in the judgment of the [C]ommission, inconsistent with the orderly or ...


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