When the Pennsylvania Supreme Court paved the way last week for SugarHouse Casino to start building in the Fishtown section of Philadelphia, Justice Thomas G. Saylor was the lone dissent.
He questioned the court’s jurisdiction in the case and today he offered further insight into how he would have ruled. In this update to his dissent, Saylor suggested that City Council wasn’t given enough time to respond to allegations made by SugarHouse, resulting in the court granting summary relief.
The casino, through its parent company HSP Gaming, brought the case against City Council directly to the Supreme Court in late October. After granting an expedited schedule, the court ruled in a per curiam order on Dec. 3 that City Council acted in bad faith by delaying the issuance of permits to HSP Gaming.
Saylor said he didn’t think the casino should have been granted relief at that stage in the litigation, questioning whether the court had jurisdiction in the "developing area of law."
"Moreover, the pleadings have been filed directly in this court, and there has been no lower court decision or, indeed, any fact-finding at all," Saylor said. "There is therefore no record on which to determine the merits of petitioner's claims."
Saylor said today that the court made a ruling based on statements from SugarHouse that were actually questions of fact and should have been answered based on an evidentiary record, according to his updated dissent.
The court’s ruling in favor of SugarHouse was premised, he said, on City Council’s failure to controvert the accuracy of the statements made, and documents provided, by SugarHouse.
"The City Council cannot be faulted for acting in this manner, moreover, as it was given only one week to respond to the initial petition and a reasonable request for an extension of time was denied," Saylor said.
According to a footnote in the opinion, he said HSP Gaming filed the case on Oct. 25 and the deadline for responsive briefs was set for Nov. 2. Counsel for City Council entered his appearance on Nov. 1. and requested an extension to file his brief. That was denied the next day, the due date for the brief, Saylor said.
He continued to say that City Council did in fact dispute certain factual allegations made by SugarHouse.
In a footnote at the end of the dissent, Saylor said an administrative error resulted in these additional thoughts being omitted from his original dissent.
~Gina Passarella, Staff Reporter