AQHA Makes Way for Clones

AQHA Makes Way for Clones

U.S. District Judge Mary Lou Robinson signed the final judgment Thursday outlining the changes to the American Quarter Horse Association’s rules to make way for clones. The court mandated the registration of cloned quarter horses and their offspring after the case went to trial last month.

A 10-person jury found that the AQHA violated state and federal anti-trust laws by conspiring to bar clones from its breed association. Plaintiffs Jason Abraham and Gregg Veneklasen sought almost $6 million in damages, but the jury awarded none. Court documents state the men were damaged by the group’s actions. “No sum of money would fairly and reasonably compensate Plaintiffs for the damages that AQHA caused each Plaintiff.”

The court provided injunctive relief to prevent “continuing damages.” Accordingly, AQHA must amend its rules to allow quarter horses produced through Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer and their offspring registration rights.

The ruling states in the case of SCNT, foals get a registration number if confirmed by DNA testing to match the DNA of a numbered American Quarter Horse. When a foal is produced by an embryo / oocyte transfer or by SCNT, that information will be listed on its registration certificate. Additionally, all clones and their offspring that meet requirements for AQHA registration are eligible for the AQHA Incentive Fund.

Despite an order that AQHA cannot excluded clones from any sanctioned events, documents state “AQHA may in the regular course of its business adopt or amend additional rules and regulations” as necessary.
Nancy Stone, one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys, told they were pleased with the judge’s decision. “She was very careful to draft the judgment so that it would be enforceable. We’re right where we want to be,” she said Thursday.
AQHA officials responded saying they will file a motion to stay the enforcement of the judgment, pending the outcome of the appellate process. However, the evolution of incorporating the court’s rules regarding clones has started.
AQHA filed a motion for judgment as a matter of law. The group is asking the court to enter a take nothing judgment in favor of AQHA based upon the fact that it says the jury’s verdict was not supported by the evidence entered at trial. The document states “a reasonable jury would not have a legally sufficient evidentiary basis to find for the Plaintiffs on any of their claims because Plaintiffs cannot support one or more of the essential elements.”
AQHA President Johne Dobbs said members are disappointed with the verdict. “They continue to be against registering clones and their offspring 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 processes are based, and which have governed our association for nearly 75 years.”
If the court denies AQHA’s motion for judgment as a matter of law AQHA officials say they will file a notice of appeal, which will begin the appellate process.

Earlier this week, AQHA was ordered to pay the plaintiffs’ almost $900,000 in legal fees from the lawsuit.

AQHA Executive Vice President Don Treadway said the association carries insurance and has a policy in place for this case. “AQHA will continue to take any and all necessary legal steps in seeking to have the final judgment entered by the court in favor of the plaintiffs reversed.”

Read the full list of mandates regarding clones by clicking the link below. 

Final Judgment

Defendant’s Renewed Motion for Judgment As a Matter of Law – Update – The judge denied the AQHA’s motion.