Judge: Fen-Phen plaintiffs Can Claim Share Of Curlin, Winnings

Associated Press Writer

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - A state judge has given more than 400 plaintiffs in a lawsuit the right to claim a piece of Breeder's Cup Classic champion Curlin, along with his winnings.

Boone County Circuit Judge William Wehr said the plaintiffs in a lawsuit against three lawyers can claim part of the horse through Midnight Cry Stables, the company used by attorneys Shirley Cunningham Jr. and William Gallion used to by the horse for $57,000.

Cunningham and Gallion own a 20 percent stake in Curlin, who won the Preakness Stakes in May and the Breeders' Cup Classic on Saturday.

Wehr's order, issued late Thursday in response to a motion by the plaintiffs, comes in a civil case against Cunningham, Gallion and Lexington lawyer Melbourne Mills Jr. over the handling of a $200 million settlement in litigation over the diet drug fen-phen.

Wehr has previously ruled that the attorneys bilked their clients out of funds from the settlement and owe at least $42 million. Cunningham, Gallion and Mills are currently jailed in northern Kentucky awaiting a federal trial on charges of wire fraud stemming from the fen-phen settlement. They have pleaded not guilty.

The judge's three-page order allows the plaintiffs to claim Midnight Cry Stables and its assets, along with other assets the men own. Curlin has earned $5.1 million in his 9 races.

Cunningham, 52, and Gallion, 56, bought Curlin for $57,000 as a yearling. They sold controlling interest in the horse in February for a reported $3.5 million to a group composed of Jess Jackson, founder of Kendall-Jackson wines; Satish Sanan's Padua Stables; and George Bolton, an investment banker.

Gallion and Cunningham retained a minority interest in the horse through Midnight Cry Stables.

Curlin was third in the Kentucky Derby and second in the Belmont Stakes.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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