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Show-horse buyers fight dismissal of suit

The plaintiffs in a million-dollar federal lawsuit involving show jumping horses are asking a judge to let them mail summons to the defendants after trying dozens of times to serve them in person.

Christopher and Margot Meredith had until Thursday to show why their complaint against Raylyn Farms Inc. and owners Ray and Lynne Little should not be dismissed without prejudice. The complaint was filed in April; the court issued the show-cause order when the defendants had not been served by Dec. 5.

In a motion filed Thursday, the Merediths said they have hired two process servers and each has been unsuccessful in serving the Littles at their Frederick farm.

“On many of these attempts, the process server believed that persons were present at the residence, but nobody permitted them access to the property,” states the motion in U.S. District Court, which also seeks to extend the time for service to Jan. 15.

The Littles were in Europe when the Merediths originally tried to serve the summons and did not return stateside until November, according to the motion.

Four unsuccessful attempts at service were made in mid-November, but Ray Little told a process server by phone that “he would not be in town for a few weeks and would not agree to make arrangements for service,” the motion states.

The underlying lawsuit alleges Raylyn Farms brokered a deal for the Merediths in 2010 to purchase a horse, S. Rubertha, for $185,000, when the farm’s actual purchase price was less than $85,000, among other charges. The Merediths also claim the defendants interfered with a subsequent sale of the horse.

The lawsuit seeks compensatory and punitive damages for breach of fiduciary duty, fraudulent concealment, negligent representation, negligence, breach of contract, fraud and tortious interference with the sale.

The Merediths, who live in Australia, met the Littles in 2007 through their children, according to the lawsuit. Benjamin Meredith, who has dual Australian-American citizenship, had come to the United States to pursue a career in show jumping as a rider, trainer and breeder, according to the lawsuit. He began working at Raylyn Farms in 2006 with the understanding the Littles would teach him the business and promote him in the industry, according to the lawsuit.

In 2008, Benjamin Meredith married the Littles’ daughter, Marilyn, a champion show jumper, according to the lawsuit. The couple separated in September 2012.