Settlement Terms Reached in McIngvale Lawsuit

A settlement has been reached in Jim McIngvale’s lawsuit against multiple parties, according to a document filed in a Texas federal court May 3, paving the way for an end to the high-profile legal dispute involving alleged sales commission fraud.

U.S. District Court Judge Samuel B. Kent closed the case for 30 days, a period where it is believed settlement particulars can be finalized, according to an order filed in the Southern District of Texas court located in Galveston.

“On the 30th day of April, 2007, the parties announced a complete settlement of all controversies herein existing,” the order reads. “Either side may move to re-open within such time, for good cause.”

Attorney Dan Pipitone, who is part of McIngvale’s legal team, said terms of the settlement were confidential, but they met with the Texas furniture tycoon’s approval. A settlement conference was held in Texas April 27.

“The settlement is satisfactory to Jim,” Pipitone said. “It involved a settlement of all of the parties on all of the claims.”

McIngvale originally filed the lawsuit in September against trainer Bob Baffert and Florida agents J.B. McKathan and Kevin McKathan, charging that the trio took what the complaint called “secret commissions” on at least 19 horses purchased at auction from 2001-2004.

In January, the list of defendants was expanded to include seven other individuals or entities, though specific allegations were never made in pleadings against any of the added parties.

One of the added parties, Eaton Sales, was dismissed in March. Others added in January were Celebrity Farms, Highclere Sales, Hill ‘n’ Dale Sales Agency, Donato Lanni, David McKathan, and Murray Smith.

Defendants contacted by The Blood-Horse, either directly or through their respective attorneys, declined to comment, or did not immediately return calls. In earlier conversations with some of the defendants, it was claimed that any payments which the complaint labeled as “secret commissions” were instead gifts or tips rewarded for a successful sale.

The McKathan brothers had filed a separate counter-claim against McIngvale, alleging that the owner reneged on an agreement to supply the agents with lifetime breeding rights to stallions with which the Texas businessman is affiliated.

When asked specifically about the McKathans’ counter-claim, Pipitone repeated that the settlement agreement involved all claims.

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