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THURSDAY, APRIL 12, 2007
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Racking horse group reaches suit settlement

By Paul Huggins
phuggins@decaturdaily.com 340-2395

PRICEVILLE — A $54 million lawsuit no longer hangs over the Racking Horse Breeders Association of America.

The association and the plaintiff in the case, Hubert Porter, agreed in March to dismiss the case after working out settlement terms.

"We're excited and looking forward to a good show season," said Judy Jones, president of the RHBAA. "We're ready to move forward."

The association voted in December to settle by selling Porter the land he claimed he legally bought from its former president last year. The association, however, had said the sale was void because the board of directors never approved it.

Porter paid $70,000 for 60 acres, which former RHBAA President Jim Morrison deposited in the association's bank account without board approval.

When the board refused to turn over the property's deed, Porter filed suit.

In the lawsuit, Porter also claimed that some board members and general members libeled and slandered him, causing him anxiety and damaging his reputation.

As part of the settlement, Porter will receive the 60 acres and will be able to buy an additional 52 acres for an undisclosed amount.

Porter could not be reached for comment.

The properties in question do not involve Celebration Arena, the horse stables and other show facilities, which the RHBAA put on sale for $1.4 million last summer.

Though the arena/show facilities don't involve the Porter properties, the dismissal of the lawsuit can help with the arena sale, Jones said.

"We could take bids, but we couldn't sell it pending a lawsuit," she said.

State Products Mart Authority of Morgan County has shown interest in buying the property.

The lawsuit came in the midst of a troubling year for the RHBAA. It continued to see its membership numbers and bank account plummet. The association also decided it no longer needed to be in the arena business and put the property up for sale, though it still intends to hold its shows in Priceville.

Jones said the association has righted itself and noted it paid off all its debts last year and still had money in the bank.

The racking horse show season begins April 25 with the annual Spring Celebration in Priceville.

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