U.S. District Judge Mary Lou Robinson has ordered the American Quarter Horse Association to pay the plaintiffs’ almost $900,000 in legal fees from the cloning lawsuit.
Last month, a jury found that the AQHA violated state and federal antitrust laws by conspiring to bar cloned horses from the group’s registry. Jurors also found the association’s actions harmed the plaintiffs, rancher Jason Abraham and veterinarian Gregg Veneklasen. The men sought $6 million in damages, but the 10-person jury failed to award any.
AQHA argued the plaintiffs were not entitled to recover their attorneys’ fees because they did not recover damages. In the alternative, the group asked for the fees totaling more than $890,000 be reduced.
Judge Robinson’s order states, “At trial, Plaintiffs presented evidence clearly demonstrating that the AQHA’s exclusion of clones made those horses relatively worthless, in tum harming Plaintiffs and the market. That the jury did not grant “actual recovery of compensatory damages [is] irrelevant to the recoverability of attorneys’ fees.” The jury found that Defendant violated all four antitrust laws and that Defendant’s actions damaged each Plaintiff. Plaintiffs are entitled to attorneys’ fees.”
Both parties now await the terms of the injunction which was announced earlier this month, requiring the association to register clones.
AQHA said previously that it would continue to fight for its members’ rights through the appeal process.