04/16/2008 11:00PM

Judge says he will rule for Curlin plaintiffs

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - A Franklin County judge said on Wednesday he will soon rule that the assets held by incarcerated attorneys William Gallion and Shirley Cunningham should be turned over to the plaintiffs that have successfully sued the two lawyers. The assets include a 20 percent stake in 2007 Horse of the Year Curlin.

Judge Roger Crittenden told the attorney for the plaintiffs, Angela Ford, that he will issue the ruling in several weeks, in response to a motion that Ford filed asking the court to declare that 10 limited-liability companies affiliated with Gallion and Cunningham are "mere alter egos or instrumentalities" of the two lawyers, who have been in jail since late last year on Crittenden's order. One of the companies, Tandy LLC, owns the share in Curlin, through a nom du course called Midnight Cry Stables.

Ford had earlier won a $42 million judgment against Gallion, Cunningham, and another attorney, Melbourne Mills Jr., that claimed they had illegally appropriated part of a $200 million settlement the attorneys won for the plaintiffs in 2002 in a case against the maker of the diet drug fen-phen. Ford has been seeking to take possession of the attorneys' assets as a way of collecting the judgment, claiming that the assets were purchased through proceeds the attorneys diverted from the settlement.

On Thursday, Ford said that the plaintiffs did not intend to retain any of the assets held by the 10 companies.

"My clients don't want to take over the ownership of any property, so we would look to liquidate those assets to cash, where possible," Ford said. "However, if it turns out that ownership of an asset is far more beneficial than liquidation, than we would consider that. But we have a long way to go before we make that decision."

The attorney representing Gallion and Cunningham, Andre Regard, did not immediately return a phone call.

Stonestreet Stables, which is owned by Jess and Barbara Jackson, owns the remaining 80 percent share in Curlin, who won the Dubai World Cup in March. Stonestreet bought out two other partners in the horse, Padua Stables and George Bolton, in 2007.

Richard Getty, an attorney who represents Stonestreet Stables, said on Wednesday that "quite obviously, Stonestreet would exercise any rights granted to it under the agreement covering ownership of Curlin." Though Getty would not confirm or deny that the agreement includes a right of first refusal - which would allow Stonestreet to match any offer made by another party to buy the interest - it has previously been reported that the right exists.