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AQHA appeals ruling on antitrust case affecting clones

From the Newstrader - October 3rd, 2013 - Newstrader

AMARILLO, Texas — The American Quarter Horse Association on Sept. 23 filed notice of appeal to overturn a jury verdict that the AQHA had violated antitrust laws by excluding cloned Quarter Horses from its registry.

On Aug. 22, U.S. District Judge Mary Lou Robinson issued a final judgment in the case, ordering the association to immediately begin registering clones and their offspring. She also awarded nearly $900,000 in attorney fees to the plaintiffs, who had demanded $5.7 in damages.

In July, an Amarillo federal jury determined an AQHA committee and top AQHA officials violated state and federal antitrust laws by conspiring to bar cloned horses from its horse registry. Jurors, however, awarded no damages to rancher Jason Abraham and Greg Veneklasen, two AQHA members who sought to register their cloned horses.

Last year, Abraham and Veneklasen sued the 280,000-member organization, seeking to overturn Rule 227a, which has barred cloned horses from the AQHA registry since 2004.

The case now moves on to the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, but parties aren’t expected to file their appeals briefs until later this year.

“AQHA strongly believes in the right of our members and directors to make such regulation decisions on their own,” AQHA Executive Vice President Don Treadway Jr. said in a statement. “We will continue to take any and all necessary legal steps to fight for our members’ rights to determine the rules that govern our association.”

AQHA also said it will seek to stay enforcement of Robinson’s judgement, pending the outcome of its appeal. If the stay is granted, registration of clones would be put on hold until the appeals process is finished, the association said. But AQHA is making plans to finalize rules for cloned horse registration and is developing computer programming to integrate clones and offspring into its registry databases.

“In the near future, AQHA will post the court-mandated rules, the new forms to be used to register clones and a summary of the requirements mandated by the court rules to register a cloned horse produced through somatic cell nuclear transfer,” the association said on its website.

“It is clear from the phone calls, emails and posts by our members that they are very disappointed in the verdict,” said AQHA President Johne Dobbs. “They continue to be against registering clones and their offpsring for a number of reasons, and they object to this verdict, as it represents a complete shift away from the sire-dam paradigm upon which all of our rules and preocesses are based, and on which we have governed our association for nearly 75 years.”

More information on the cloning lawsuit can be obtained at http://bit.ly/1310A_AQHA.

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