California Superior Court Judge Jeffrey B. Barton recently ruled that there was not enough submitted evidence to suggest Sauque was involved in the fraudulent activities alleged by Jackson’s lawsuit, where the billionaire winemaker and horseman claims several parties conspired to swindle him out of millions of dollars in secret commissions on the sale of horses and farm real estate.
Jackson’s attorneys have filed a motion for Barton to reconsider his Dec. 15 ruling, in which the magistrate also excluded Sauque because his involvement in any supposed deals took place outside California. A hearing on the reconsideration motion is scheduled for April, said attorney Richard Getty, who is part of Jackson’s legal team.
Other defendants named in the California action are Narvick International, Emmanuel de Seroux, Continental Bloodstock, Bruce Headley, Brad Martin, Fernando Diaz-Valdez and Buckram Oak Holdings.
The original complaint accused Sauque and other defendants of conspiring on some horse sales that Jackson claimed were inflated by more than $3 million in secret commissions, kickbacks, and fraudulent pricing.
“Though the evidence suggests that horses were sold at one price by Sauque, the evidence does not support Sauque had any other participation except selling the horses to Narvick,” Barton wrote.
While stating that certain evidence supports the allegations that de Seroux “may have taken an undisclosed commission” on deals, Barton wrote that “Jackson’s declaration is silent as to Sauque’s conduct, and there is no evidence that Sauque participated in any mark up plan.”
Barton also ruled that Sauque’s involvement was outside the jurisdiction of the California court system, as most of the subject dealings took place in either Kentucky or France.
Referencing Barton’s ruling, Sauque’s attorneys have also filed a motion in Kentucky federal court to have him removed from a separately-filed lawsuit involving Jackson’s $17.5 million purchase of the former Buckram Oak Farm once headed by the late Mahmoud Fustok.
In the Kentucky lawsuit, Jackson claims that Sauque acted in collusion with Fustok, de Seroux, Headley and Martin to inflate the purchase price by at least $1.5 million. That allegation was removed last year from the California suit by Barton, and later filed in Kentucky.
In the latest filing, Sauque’s attorneys claim Jackson “has taken the liberty of making personal attacks, making statements and allegations that have been found untrue,” and that he argued “material that is both impertinent and scandalous.”
While calling the California ruling on Sauque a victory for his client, Lexington attorney Thomas Bullock said he couldn’t comment on the specifics in the Kentucky case, since it is still pending.
“As far as my client is concerned, the California court exonerated him,” said Bullock.