Jersey Court Rejects As Frivolous USET's Motion To Disqualify
hearing lengthy oral argument, the Superior Court of New Jersey
today denied the motion of the United States Equestrian Team,
seeking to disqualify the attorney representing Alan Balch, who
is challenging the validity of various corporate actions taken
by the USET in the fall of 2001. Judge Edmund R. Bernhard also
ruled that the motion of the USET was unsupported by facts, was
contrary to the law, and was frivolous. As a result, he ordered
that the USET and its attorneys must pay sanctions to
reimburse the legal fees incurred in opposing their motion. Mr.
Balch is the President of USA Equestrian, the National Equestrian
Federation of the United States, which authorized Mr. Balch to
file the New Jersey litigation.
USET's disqualification motion was filed by Armand Leone, Jr.,
the President of the USET who is also acting as its attorney in
the New Jersey litigation. The motion was based on the fact that
Mr. Balch's attorney, Richard Collier, had successfully defended
George Morris, Frank Chapot and other trustees of the USET in
a 1990 lawsuit. According to Mr. Leone, Mr. Morris and Mr. Chapot
are still trustees of the USET and therefore it would be a conflict
of interest for Mr. Collier to oppose the USET in the current
Bernhard rejected the arguments of Mr. Leone. He ruled that Mr.
Collier's representation of individual trustees in the 1990 case
did not mean that he was representing the USET in that case, and
he noted that the USET had its own attorneys in that case. Judge
Bernhard also found that, because there is no relationship between
the 1990 case and the Balch action, it is not a conflict of interest
for Mr. Collier to oppose the USET in the current litigation.
the Judge imposed sanctions on the USET, Mr. Leone, and Mr. Leone's
law firm for filing a frivolous motion after receiving a warning
from Mr. Collier that the demand for disqualification lacked any
valid factual or legal basis. The amount of the sanctions will
be determined after Mr. Collier submits an affidavit listing the
legal fees incurred in defeating the frivolous motion for disqualification.
Collier commented that the motion to disqualify him was an unfortunate
sideshow designed by the USET's attorneys to harass Mr. Balch
and to delay the New Jersey litigation. "In light of Mr.
Leone's open gloating in the media that the Federation 'is going
to have legal bills going through the roof' in this case, it is
especially gratifying that Mr. Leone and his client will end up
paying my bills. This is what happens when a client is not getting
objective advice from an independent attorney, but rather chooses
to rely on an insider whose personal involvement distorts his
Equestrian Inc., as the National Equestrian Federation of the
U.S., is the regulatory body for the Olympic and World Championship
sports of dressage, driving, endurance, eventing, reining, show
jumping, and vaulting, as well as 19 other breeds and disciplines
of equestrian competition. As
the country's largest multi-breed organization, the Federation
has over 80,000 members and recognizes more than 2,800 competitions
nationwide each year. It governs all aspects of competition, including
educating and licensing all judges, stewards, and technical delegates
who officiate at these shows.
The vision of USA Equestrian is to provide leadership for equestrian
sport in the United States of America, promoting the pursuit of
excellence from the grass roots to the Olympic Games, based on
a foundation of fair, safe competition and the welfare of its
horses, and embracing this vision, to be the best national equestrian
federation in the world.