Michael D. Meuser practices in the areas of civil litigation and equine law. Mike graduated in 1980 from the University of Kentucky College of Law, where he was a member of the National Moot Court Team. Mike is a frequent lecturer on equine law topics. He is a member of the Planning Committee of the U.K. National Equine Law Conference and is Vice-President and Secretary of the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance, which received the 2013-2014 Eclipse Service Award. Mike has been Past Chair of the Equine Law Section of the Fayette County Bar as well as the Kentucky Bar Association. In 2013 Mike was the co-winner of the Edward S. Bonnie Award, awarded to the outstanding Kentucky Equine Lawyer by the Equine Law Section of the Kentucky Bar Association.
Daniel Werre v. Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, Franklin Circuit Court, 14-CI-418 (June 15, 2015)
Kentucky Racing Commission suspended trainer Werre for a year because the horse tested positive for Levamisole. The Franklin Circuit Court reversed the Racing Commission’s suspension of the trainer because the Racing Commission did not sustain its burden of showing the propriety of the penalty imposed. The Racing Commission had misclassified the drug on its own Schedules and application of the regulation was therefore unconstitutional.
Racing Commission/administrative agency/burden/LevamisoleEquine Law Litigation
Stewart v. Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (2013 WL 1003534, Ky. App. 2013)
Veterinarian was charged with possession of sealed alpha cobratoxin vials and carbidopa/levodopa tablets at Keeneland training facility. The Stewards suspended the vet for four years for possession of cobratoxin and one year for carbidopa/levodopa, to run consecutively. The Franklin Circuit Court reversed carbidopa/levodopa suspension, finding that it was not based on substantial evidence. On cross-appeals, the Court of Appeals affirmed reversal of the suspension for carbidopa/levodopa, and reversed four-year suspension for possession of alpha cobratoxin. The Court held that 810 KAR 1:018 §19(1) was void for vagueness and therefore unconstitutional as applied to the vet.Equine Law Litigation
Blue Skies Racing Stable, LLC v. O’Sullivan Farms, LLC and Vinery, Ltd., (2012-CA-2116-MR)
Blue Skies Racing Stable, LLC appealed a judgment of the Fayette Circuit Court dismissing appellee, O’Sullivan Farms, LLC from its declaratory action. The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded. The controversy centered over who was entitled to ownership of a thoroughbred stallion named LIMEHOUSE. Blue Skies contended that it had a valid and binding contract to purchase the controlling interest in the horse from appellee, Vinery, Ltd. and that Vinery breached the contract by purporting to sell that controlling interest to a third party, O’Sullivan Farms, LLC, instead. Blue Skies moved for a temporary injunction to prohibit Vinery and O’Sullivan Farms from removing the horse from Kentucky and taking it to West Virginia during the pendency of the litigation. Vinery and O’Sullivan Farms opposed the motion for temporary injunction and alternatively moved to dismiss. The Court identified several errors by the trial court. First, the trial court orally overruled the motion for temporary injunction at an August 30, 2012 hearing. However, the Court held that the Court did not effectively “deny Blue Skies’ motion for a temporary injunction” because a court may speak “only through written orders entered upon the official record,” and no written findings of fact and conclusions of law were entered. Id. at *6. Second, the Court found that the trial court had no authority “to render a nonbinding advisory opinion,” and that the trial court “could not properly have disposed of the underlying merits of this dispute when simply considering Blue Skies’ motion for temporary injunction.” Therefore, the trial court erred in justifying its dismissal of O’Sullivan Farms by citing its previous “denial” of Blue Skies’ motion for temporary injunction. Third, the trial court erred by foreclosing the possibility that specific performance was an appropriate remedy for Blue Skies under the circumstances. Finally, the trial court erred by indicating that it lacked authority to unwind O’Sullivan Farms’ purported purchase of LIMEHOUSE or otherwise exercise jurisdiction over LIMEHOUSE because the horse was, at the time of the hearing on the motion to dismiss, located in another state. “The circuit court undisputedly has personal jurisdiction over O’Sullivan Farms . . . the circuit court is fully authorized to compel O’Sullivan Farms to act in relation to any property not within its jurisdiction.” Id. at *8.
Equine/personal jurisdiction/rescission of purchase/stallion interestEquine Law Litigation Transactional Law
James Lauffer v. Thoro-Graph, Inc. and Jerry Brown,Johnson Circuit Court 09-CI-157 (4/12/2010)
In the absence of an agreement, a horse purchaser adviser is limited to recovering 5% of the purchase price.Equine Law Litigation
Current Law on Fraud and Sale of Horses
Highland Stud International, et al. v. Baffert, et al., 00-261-JMH (EDKy 2002)
The former purchaser of the “breeding rights” to Kentucky Derby winner REAL QUIET purchased his “racing qualities” in 2000. The 2000 agreement provided that the horse was sold “as is” and with no representation or warranties concerning the physical condition of the colt. The purchaser later sued the seller, trainer, and a veterinarian asserting various claims, including breach of contract and fraud, after REAL QUIET manifested a tendon injury after his arrival in Kentucky. The Court held that the purchaser could not assert “tort claims” such as fraud, under the “economic loss doctrine.” That doctrine provides that in sales governed by the UCC and involving purely economic losses as opposed to personal injuries, a party is bound by the contract and generally is limited to only contract claims. The Court also held that there was no breach of contract and dismissing the purchaser’s claims in this horse sales case under the “economic loss doctrine.”Equine Law Litigation
Thomas v. Hodge, 897 FSupp 980 (USDC WDKY 1995)
Saddlehorse owners from California pursued claims for an accounting and breaches of fiduciary duty against their Kentucky-based agent who boarded, trained and showed their saddlebred horses. The United States District Court at Louisville ruled on a pretrial motion for an accounting and held that the agent was not required to account for expenses accrued when the agent was acting as vendor of services to principals and further had no duty to account for transactions in which he did not act as agent and did not receive a commission, distinguishing between horse sales transactions (i.e., disposition of principal’s property) and boarding and training expenses (merely rendering bills for payment). The Court made clear that an agency is a fiduciary relationship resulting from manifestation of consent by one person, the principal, to another, the agent, that the agent may act on the principal’s behalf and subject to his control; and consent by the agent to so act.
Principal/agent/equine industry/show horses/American Saddlebred Horse Association/accountingEquine Law Litigation
Cohen v. North Ridge Farms, Inc., 712 F.Supp. 1265 (USDC ED Ky 1989)
The court held that sellers of horses have a duty to inspect and find defects in horses they are selling. This case led to the creation of repositories at public auctions in Kentucky.Equine Law Litigation Transactional Law
Chernick v. Fasig Tipton, 703 S.W.2d 885 (1986)
Sales companies have a duty to insure the accuracy of information supplied to buyers. This case was later cited in the adoption of negligent misrepresentation as a cause of action in Kentucky.Equine Law Litigation Transactional Law