Marrone v. Washington Jockey Club

35 App. D.C. 82, 1910 U.S. App. LEXIS 5869



A ticket of admission to an entertainment conducted under private ownership and supervision is a revocable license, and no action will lie in tort for the mere ejecting from such place of a person who presents himself for admission armed with a ticket purchased in the usual manner. A ticket purchased to witness races is a mere revocable license, and no action for damages will lie for the ejection of the holder from the grounds. The rule announced has been generally followed. An action of trespass on the case will not lie against a proprietor or manager of a theater for refusing to permit the purchaser and holder of a ticket to occupy the seat called for by his ticket, and the ticket is a mere license, which can be revoked before the party takes his seat. 


In 1907, at the fall meeting of the defendant’s association, the Washington Jockey Club of the District of Columbia, the plaintiff, Joseph Marrone, has entered a horse to take part in the races. On November 25th of the same year, the plaintiff purchased a ticket of admission to the grounds. The back of the ticket contains the restrictions which generally instruct the ticket holder to comply with the rules and regulations prescribed by the association; non-compliance will result to the eviction of the holder from the race track. Upon the plaintiff’s presentation of the ticket at the gate, he was refused admission based on his alleged action of “doping” his horse – that is, the veterinary surgeons employed by the defendants have found out that the horse entered by the plaintiff has been given a stimulant. On November 26, he bought another ticket and was again refused admission, thereby, inducing him to file an action against the defendants from excluding him from its grounds, asserting that the defendants have conspired to destroy his good reputation, to humiliate and injure him in his person and his feelings and to consequently prevent his horses to compete in such races. The Supreme Court of the District of Columbia has ruled in favor of the defendants.


Can a venue operator eject a ticket holder from its grounds?




The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia’s decision which had directed a verdict in favor of the defendant in the plaintiff’s action that alleged a conspiracy to ruin his reputation, assault and false imprisonment, and the denial of his right to be admitted on the licensors' race track. The Court concluded that the plaintiff failed to prove that there was a malicious, concerted movement by the defendants to wrongfully charge him with doping his horse in order to have him ruled off the track and prevented from going onto the defendants’ grounds. The Court reasoned that the plaintiff only alleged that the horse was not doped and that the veterinarian was mistaken without providing any additional proof. The Court also indicated that there was no false imprisonment because no more force was used than was necessary to remove the plaintiff from the race track. More importantly, the Court determined that the ticket was only a license to enter the grounds, so there was no action in tort, absent an unlawful assault or false imprisonment, for the refusal to allow the plaintiff to enter the grounds.

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