San Diego Superior Court Judge Jeff B. Barton ruled Jan. 16 that certain of Jackson’s dealings with bloodstock agent Emmanuel de Seroux and his Narvick International weren’t covered by a California statute requiring written contracts and bills of sales in racehorse transactions.
The pre-trial motion, known as a summary adjudication, involved about 25 private horse sales put together by de Seroux from 2003 to 2005 in which Jackson claimed he was overcharged by at least $2.8 million. If the deals were found in violation of the California statute, Jackson would have been eligible for nearly $9 million in damages.
Instead, Barton ruled, in part, that presented evidence indicated the particular transactions took place outside of California, and thus, the state statute didn’t apply.
“(De Seroux’s) evidence that the plaintiff did not have an operational farm in California suggests the horses were delivered, not to California, but to Kentucky and Florida,” Barton wrote, making references to Jackson’s Stonestreet Farm locations in those states.
Barton’s judgment made no determination on the allegations of fraud set forth by Jackson in the original complaint, which also charges that de Seroux and others conspired to bilk the winemaker in private sales, public auction purchases, and real estate deals. In a ruling in December that temporarily dismissed defendant Frederic Sauque from the lawsuit, Barton wrote that evidence suggested de Seroux “may have taken an undisclosed commission by marking up” horses sold via Narvick to Jackson’s Four Star Stables.
One of Jackson’s attorneys says he is confident a pending jury trial will produce a different outcome.
“This matter focused on only one claim in the litigation,” Lexington attorney Richard Getty said. “Any kind of spin that this is some kind of victory is far from the truth.”
De Seroux and Narvick in early 2006 filed a countersuit which claims, in part, that Jackson hasn’t paid the entirety of an agreed 5% commission due on more than $60 million in alleged transactions involving about 140 horses.
A release issued by de Seroux’s attorneys after the summary adjudication ruling said that Barton “considered” alleged admissions by Jackson in regard to the 5% agreement.
“Evidence in the case clearly shows that Narvick received less than 5% on the horses acquired by Jackson,” attorney Daniel Platt said in the release.