Statutory Provision that the Gaming Commission “Shall” Render a Determination Within 30 Days After a Hearing Is “Directory” Not “Mandatory”—A Late Determination Will Not Be Annulled Absent Prejudice
The Third Department determined Supreme Court erred when it annulled the suspension of petitioner’s license to train and own horses because the NYS Gaming Commission did not render a determination within 30 days of the hearing as required by Racing, Pari-Mutuel Wagering and Breeding Law 321. The Third Department determined the 30-day time-limit was not mandatory and petitioner could only seek relief for a violation of section 321 if he could show prejudice related to the delay:
Racing, Pari-Mutuel Wagering and Breeding Law § 321 provides that, when respondent suspends a harness racing participant’s license, the licensee may demand a hearing and, “[w]ithin thirty days after the conclusion of such hearing, [respondent] shall make a final order in writing.” The use of “shall” is not conclusive, however, inasmuch as the statute does not impose any limitation on respondent’s power to act or provide for any consequences for the failure to comply with the time limit … . Nor has petitioner cited any legislative history, and we are not aware of any, suggesting that the 30-day provision in the statute was intended to be mandatory. Rather, at the time this provision was enacted, similar language in the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law had been judicially determined to be directory … , yet the Legislature imposed no additional language limiting respondent’s power to act when it later enacted Racing, Pari-Mutuel Wagering and Breeding Law § 321.
Where, as here, an agency fails to follow a procedural provision that is merely directory, the subsequent determination should only be judicially annulled when the challenger can “show that substantial prejudice resulted from the agency’s noncompliance” … . Matter of Pena v New York State Gaming Commn., 2015 NY Slip Op 02821, 3rd Dept 4-2-15