The City of Philadelphia asked the Pennsylvania Supreme Court today to re-hear arguments in a recently decided case that ruled the city has power to convey state owned riparian lands beneath the Delaware River.
The petition claims the court ruled in favor of HSP Gaming on an issue that wasn’t included in oral arguments and in which no evidence was presented.
The court, in HSP Gaming v. City of Philadelphia, had ruled a 1907 law transferred the power to issue licenses for use of the land to the city. It ruled former Mayor John F. Street’s administration had the right to issue a license to HSP Gaming for the building of SugarHouse Casino and ruled Mayor Michael Nutter’s administration did not have the power to revoke that license because the casino owner’s relied on it.
In its application for re-argument, the city said that while it disagreed with the court’s finding that the power granted to the city in 1907 remained with the city, it respected the court’s thoughtful, lengthy analysis on that point.
The city instead argued that there was no evidence to prove HSP Gaming had an entitlement to or reliance on the license issued by the Street administration.
The court’s conclusion that HSP Gaming detrimentally relied on the license ignores the facts, the city argued, that there was no hearing or fact finding to provide evidence of its reliance and that a license issued in error is always revocable. The city also argued that a license granted by the state to use lands held in trust by the state for the public is inherently revocable.
“The General Assembly’s mandate to establish casino gaming throughout this commonwealth as expeditiously as possible should not mean that normal rules requiring parties to prove their cases by a preponderance of the evidence subject to cross-examination are simply to be discarded,” the petition argued. “Nor does it mean that century old case law is simply to be ignored; nor does it justify a radical rewriting of property and public lands law.”
In asking for re-argument, the city said the issue of its ability to revoke the license was “expressly excluded from the oral argument.”
The application was filed by City Solicitor Shelley R. Smith, law department attorney Mark R. Zecca and Pepper Hamilton attorneys Amy Ginensky, A. Michael Pratt, Robin P. Sumner and David V. Dzara.
~Gina Passarella, Senior Staff Reporter