Jury Trial Begins Over Disputed Sale of $2.1 Million Mare

by | 10.19.2014 | 7:38pm
Love Me Only was carrying Storm The Stars at the time of her $2.1 million purchase at the Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale

Did Love Me Only have laminitis when Jane Lyon bought the unraced 3-year-old half-sister to leading sire Giant's Causeway from Eaton Sales, agent, for $2.1 million at the 2011 Keeneland November breeding stock sale?

Was Love Me Only given the anti-inflammatory phenylbutazone four consecutive days while on the sale grounds to hide possible lameness?

Did agents or employees of the Love Me Only's owners – associates of Coolmore Stud chief John Magnier – purposely conceal the fact the unraced daughter of Sadler's Wells had an unsuccessful mating to Danehill Dancer before being pronounced in-foal to European Horse of the Year Sea the Stars on a May 3 cover?

Those questions are at the heart of a lawsuit being heard in a jury trial that begins Monday in Fayette County Circuit Court in Lexington, Ky. Lyon, who owns Summer Wind Farm in Georgetown, Ky., with her husband, Frank, filed a lawsuit in January 2012 alleging she was defrauded by the owners of Love Me Only (Orpendale, Chelston Ireland and Wynatt – believed to be John Magnier and associates), along with Bemak, N.V., Ltd. Co. (doing business as Ashford Stud) and Eaton Sales, a sales agency operated by Reiley McDonald).

Lyon attempted to have the sale rescinded one week after buying Love Me Only when a report from her veterinarian indicated the filly had chronic laminitis. That bid was rejected by Keeneland officials because its Conditions of Sale require notification be made within 48 hours of the conclusion of a sale session in which a horse is sold.

Keeneland's Director of Sales, Geoffrey Russell, in a sworn affidavit, said administration of phenylbutazone to Love Me Only would not be considered by the sale company to be “an invasive practice which intentionally conceals a material defect or chronic lameness,” covered under the Ninth Condition. Russell also said in his statement that Keeneland's separate Medication Policy recommends no more than two anti-inflammatory drugs be administered to sale horses.

Love Me Only recovered from her physical issues to have a healthy 2012 foal by Sea the Stars and was bred back and pronounced in foal to Distorted Humor.

There have been countless interrogatories, depositions and motions filed in the case over the last 2 1/2 years and each side has put forth a lengthy list of exhibits and witnesses to testify during the trial, including laminitis specialists and veterinarians, medication and drug-testing experts, sale company executives, consignors and employees of both the plaintiff and defendants.

But it will come down to 12 members of the public to determine if Love Me Only had laminitis when she sold and whether her condition and breeding history were fraudulently concealed from Lyon and Summer Wind farm manager Mark Moloney.

Judge Ernesto Scorsone will preside over the case, which is estimated to last at least six days. Barry Hunter of Frost Brown Todd is representing the defendants in the lawsuit, with William Hoskins and Jay Ingle counsel for the plaintiffs.

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the deadline for notification  to rescind a sale under Keeneland's Condition of Sales. It is 48 hours from the end of a session in which the horse is sold.

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