03/13/2007 12:00AM

McIngvale asks Eaton be dropped from suit


In a second amended complaint filed March 8 in the U. S. District Court for the southern district of Texas, McIngvale asks for the Eaton Sales agency to be dropped from the case he initially filed last September against trainer Bob Baffert and bloodstock agents J. B. and Kevin McKathan.

"We're happy to be dropped from this suit," Eaton Sales co-owner Tom Van Meter said Tuesday. "But the point of the matter is that they sued us without any evidence. They didn't do their homework."

Van Meter said he is not ruling out legal action alleging damage to Eaton Sales's business reputation.

"We're considering what our options are with our attorney," he said.

Last month, McIngvale added seven consignors, including Eaton Sales, to the suit, claiming that they had conspired with McIngvale's advisors to pay secret commissions and kickbacks on horses McIngvale purchased. In addition to Eaton Sales, McIngvale added Hill 'n' Dale Sales Agency, Donato Lanni, Highclere Sales, Celebrity Farms, David McKathan, and Murray Smith to his complaint.

McIngvale did not provide specific allegations against individual sellers, except to allege that 2-year-old consignor Smith paid an undisclosed 10-percent commission to the McKathans after they paid $950,000 for Work on McIngvale's behalf.

Not all of the consignors have responded publicly to the February allegations, but Van Meter and Hill 'n' Dale owner John Sikura have strongly protested their companies' inclusion in the case. The McKathans and Baffert have denied the allegations against them. The McKathans have counter-sued McIngvale, claiming he failed to abide by an agreement to give them stallions' breeding rights.

McIngvale's attorney, Hank Stout, could not be reached Tuesday for comment.