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Court to determine horses' owners

Posted July 3, 2001

Reprinted with permission from Shelbyville Times Gazette

Story by Ann Bullard

Who does legally own The Skywatch, Pride's Jubilee Encore, He's Pusher's Hall Of Fame, Generator's Fame, Ultimate Fame, Flip and Coin's Princess and four other offspring of Lady Fame?

That's the question before the United States District Court in Nashville. A motion to dismiss and summary judgment in the case concerning transfer of ownership of the broodmare was denied last week by United States District Judge Aleta A. Trauger. Jimmy Joe and Bonnie Woosley, individually and doing business as The Woosley Horse Breeding Organization, Kay Dennis, Alla Mai Ray, Joe and Cena Martin, Bob Kilgore, Gus King and Norwood Bryant are defendants in the action brought last August by Mary R. Woosley.

The suit states that the actions of Jimmy Joe and Bonnie Woosley constitute a pattern of racketeering activity since 1994. It is being brought under the Federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. They are seeking treble damages, court costs, reasonable attorney fees and the costs of bringing the suit.

The plaintiff charges that Jimmy Joe and Bonnie Woosley conspired and forged her signature on papers transferring her interest in the mare to Jimmy Joe Woosley "in order to deprive the Plaintiff of her rightful interest in the mare and its offspring." Mary Woosley purchased the mare when married to Jimmy Joe, and when they separated transferred a half ownership to him in exchange of caring for the mare.

The suit alleges that Jimmy Joe Woosley told his former wife the mare had died and in August 1991 he or Bonnie Woosley forged Mary Woosley's name to the papers. He also told her no colts had been born after she gave him a half-interest in the world champion dam.

"The sales of the offspring of Lady Fame and their services have resulted in incredible ill-gotten profit for the Defendants," Mary Woosley's petition says.

The plaintiff argued that Ray, Dennis, the Martins, Kilgore, King and Bryant, owners of Lady Fame get, received a "void title" to their horses and that Mary Woosley remains the true owner of her one-half interest in the mare and her offspring. The motion revolved about the definitions of "fraud" and "theft." Under the fraud statutes, a legitimate ownership may be transferred; in theft, it may not.

"The defendants, even as good faith purchasers, could not acquire an interest in the horses that could prevail over the plaintiff's rights," Trauger wrote in her decision.

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