Hill 'n' Dale Seeks Dismissal from McIngvale Lawsuit

Hill ‘n' Dale Sales Agency has filed a motion asking a Texas judge to dismiss it from James McIngvale’s fraud lawsuit, the first member of the most recently-added defendants to respond with a filed court answer to the allegations.

The motion, filed April 4 in a Texas federal court, includes a separate declaration from John G. Sikura, in which the Hill ‘n' Dale owner, while denying participation in any fraudulent activity, claims commissions were paid to original defendants J.B. McKathan and Kevin McKathan on two horses the Florida-based agents allegedly purchased on behalf of McIngvale.

The documents filed in U.S. District Court Southern District of Texas Galveston Division outline two sales involving Hill ‘n' Dale consignments.

In the first incident, Sikura claims Hill ‘n' Dale, on the authorization of breeder-seller Winsong Farms, wrote a $14,000 check to the McKathan brothers’ Florida company, Our Team LLC, representing what he termed a 5% commission on a $280,000 purchase at the 2001 Keeneland September yearling sale for a horse eventually named Lashburn.

Hill ‘n' Dale was separately paid a 2.5% consignor commission ($7,000) on the sale by Winsong Farms, the filings claim. Winsong Farm is headed by Canadian James Sapara, who is not a named defendant in the lawsuit. Sapara could not immediately be reached for comment.

The second transaction involves the $600,000 purchase of Word at the 2003 Fasig-Tipton July yearling sale. Sikura claims Word was sold on behalf of an ownership group called Insight Partnership 2004, which “upon information and belief” paid the McKathans a 2% commission totaling $12,000.

Donato Lanni, another defendant named in the lawsuit who is also Hill ‘n' Dale’s bloodstock services director, told The Blood-Horse in a 2003 article that he headed up the group that owned Word.

Lanni was at the time the organizer of a Kentucky limited liability company called Insight Pinhooking 2004. No company called Insight Partnership 2004 has ever been incorporated with the state of Kentucky, according to the secretary of state’s Web-site.

Lexington attorney Thomas Bullock, who is representing Lanni, said he and his client were in the process of putting together a separate dismissal motion and preferred not to comment further.

Dan Pipitone, a Texas-based attorney who is part of the legal team representing McIngvale, declined to comment.

Hill ‘n' Dale and Lanni are among seven individuals or entities added in January to a lawsuit that previously included trainer Bob Baffert, the McKathan brothers and related entities, a legal action that claims at least 19 sales made on behalf of McIngvale in 2001-2004 involved fraudulent dealings.

For additional background, read this article and this article.

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