An Amarillo federal judge on Tuesday granted a legal motion by the American Quarter Horse Association to halt horse cloning registration requirements until a higher court rules on its appeal. U.S. District Judge Mary Lou Robinson granted the motion in an order that also required the association to continue developing rules to register cloned quarter horses and their offspring.
The AQHA, citing concerns about costly upgrades to its computer system, asked Robinson to delay the registration requirement while it appeals an Amarillo federal jury’s verdict. In July, Amarillo jurors determined top AQHA officials violated state and federal antitrust laws by conspiring to bar cloned horses from the association’s registry.
Last year, rancher Jason Abraham, of Canadian, Texas, and veterinarian Greg Veneklasen, of Canyon, Texas, sued the association, seeking to register their cloned horses and overturn Rule 227a, which has barred cloned horses from the AQHA registry since 2004.
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. The AQHA then appealed the case to the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.
Before Robinson issued her order, the association contended it would cost more than $100,000 to reprogram its computers to permit clone registration.
The association, which has denied violating antitrust laws, said in court filings that registering clones and their offspring would have forced it to spend thousands of man-hours and months of programming time in order to rewrite or write new computer code — resources it said will be wasted if the Fifth Circuit reverses the final judgment.
The plaintiffs asked Robinson not to grant AQHA a stay. They argued in legal briefs that AQHA was not likely to win its appeal and indicated that legal evidence exists that supports the jury’s verdict that the association violated antitrust statutes.
Nancy Stone and Sam Stein, attorneys for the plaintiffs, said they expect to win the case when the appeals court rules.
“Plaintiffs and their counsel respect Judge Robinson’s desire to maintain the status quo while she carefully considers the underlying motions on the merits. We remain optimistic that the judgment entered will be reaffirmed by the trial court and affirmed on appeal and that clones and their offspring will be registered,” the attorneys said in a statement.
Attempts to reach the AQHA for comment were unsuccessful Tuesday.