AQHA Files Appeal In Cloning Case

AQHA LogoOn Sept. 23, the last day possible, attorneys for the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) filed a notice of appeal with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, in Amarillo, Texas, indicating the AQHA will contest the court’s recent ruling ordering it to change its rules to accept the registration of cloned Quarter Horses.

A judge’s panel representing the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans will eventually affirm or deny the AQHA appeal or set another hearing. That appellate court panel will act after reviewing not-yet submitted legal briefs from attorneys representing the defendant, the AQHA, and two plaintiffs in the case, rancher Jason Abraham, of Canadian, Texas, and veterinarian Gregg Veneklasen, of Amarillo, Texas. There is no set time frame regarding when the next legal ruling in the case might take place.

A press release issued by the AQHA states it will also seek a stay from the appellate court that could delay implementation of new cloning rules during the ongoing appeal process. At the same time, the AQHA stated it has initiated a process that could incorporate the new rules. That will take some time, the association’s press release states.

“The court-mandated rules require new and significant computer programming with respect to AQHA’s databases. AQHA, in the normal course of business, will develop such programming that is necessary to integrate clones and offspring into such 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.”

Read the entire press release from the AQHA here:

Nancy Stone, one of four attorneys representing Abraham and Veneklasen, said she believes the court of appeals will affirm the recent district court judgment.

“I think the AQHA has made a statement that it has the right to set its own rules,” Stone said. “We don’t disagree with that, as long as their rules don’t violate the laws. In this instance, both the jury and the judge found that they violated the laws and damaged our clients.”

If the AQHA loses its appeal, it will be required to allow registration of clones of registered horses and their foals. That would honor an Aug. 22 ruling by District Judge Mary Lou Robinson, following a unanimous late-July civil court jury verdict that determined an existing AQHA rule banning clone registrations violates the federal Sherman Anti Trust Act and Texas state laws.

Neither the jury nor the judge awarded punitive damages to the defendants, but Judge Robinson signed an Aug. 19 order requiring the AQHA to pay plaintiffs Abraham and Veneklasen’s combined legal fees totaling nearly $900,000. The judge signed another order in mid-September allowing the AQHA to delay making those payments while its appeal continues. The judge signed additional September orders indicating if its appeal fails, the AQHA will have to pay all originally assessed legal fees.