The American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) says it is working on rule updates in preparation to accept the registration of clones, but hopes to have the court-ordered change delayed while it pursues legal options.
It also faces a bill of nearly $US900,000 for the cost of lawyers fees in the challenge mounted against its cloning ban.
The AQHA said Judge Mary Lou Robinson had issued a final judgment in the case, saying it had to immediately begin registering clones and their offspring.
It says it will file a motion to stay the enforcement of the judgment pending an appeal.
In the interim, it has started incorporating the court’s rules to accept the registration of clones and their offspring.
Rancher Jason Abraham and veterinarian Gregg Veneklasen took the AQHA to court seeking the repeal of Rule REG106.1 to allow cloned quarter horses and their offspring to be registered, thus enabling them to compete.
Abraham and Veneklasen, who have about 20 cloned quarter horses and their offspring, filed the action through related companies in April last year in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas in Amarillo.
A 10-person jury ruled in favor of the pair, but awarded no damages. They had sought $US2 million to $US5 million in damages.
“Although the jury’s verdict found that our association’s decision to refuse to register clones and their offspring was in violation of antitrust laws, we strongly believe in the right of our members and our directors to make such registration decisions on their own,” AQHA executive vice-president Don Treadway said.
“We also believe in this case that there has been no violation of antitrust law. Therefore, 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.”
In addition to filing a motion to stay the enforcement of the judgment pending its appeal, the association will also file a judgment overturning the jury’s verdict on the basis it was not supported by the trial evidence.
Should the court deny AQHA’s motion, it will proceed with an appeal in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, Louisiana.
AQHA President Johne Dobbs: “It is clear from the phone calls, emails and posts by our members that they are very disappointed in 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.
“We appreciate our membership’s support, and want them to know that we will continue to fight for their right to determine the rules that govern their association.”
Treadway added: “We have received many questions regarding insurance coverage in this case.
“Like many responsible corporations, AQHA proactively carries insurance and has a policy in the present case. We will keep the membership updated regarding developments in this case.”