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ASHLEY MEADOWS FARM, INC. v. AMERICAN HORSE SHOWS

September 20, 1984

ASHLEY MEADOWS FARM, INC. and DOLORES A. SWANN, Plaintiffs, against AMERICAN HORSE SHOWS ASSOCIATION, INC. and IRA A. FINKELSTEIN, Defendants.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: SWEET

SWEET, D.J.

Plaintiffs Ashley Meadows Farm, Inc. ("Ashley") and Ashley's president, Dolores Swann ("Swann") sponsor and operate horse shows in Chester County, Pennsylvania. They seek treble damages for alleged violations of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 1 and 2, by defendant American Horse Shows Association, Inc. ("ASHA"). ASHA has moved for summary judgment pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 with respect to each plaintiff. The motion is granted with respect to Swann but is denied with respect to Ashley.

 Background

 The complaint and affidavits allege that AHSA is a nationwide organization which establishes rules, guidelines, and procedures for horse showing and which also recognizes and designates certain shows each year to be held under its rules. Although AHSA selects horse shows which are to be accorded various competitive levels, AHSA does not itself operate horse shows.

 Swann is president of Ashley, and her involvement as a participant in the horse show industry derives solely from her employment by Ashley, which sponsors and operates horse shows. Swann does not compete with other horse shows in the horse show industry and she does not claim injury as an exhibitor, nor does she own stock in Ashley.

 The first claim in the complaint alleges that AHSA has created a horizontal market division among recognized shows that has had the effect of barring the entry of new horse shows into competition with established horse shows. The market division is allegedly a consequence of an AHSA rule controlling the scheduling and distribution of shows around the country that establishes suggested minimum distances between shows of comparable rank given on the same date. Shows in AHSA's "A" category, the category where horses can accumulate the greatest number of points towards annual awards and where the dollar prize rewards are highest, should be 250 miles apart; "B" shows should be 150 miles apart. The rules also provides that a show recognized on a certain date in a particular year may obtain a comparable date in subsequent years. Plaintiffs allege that his scheduling rule, in violation of section 1 of the Sherman Act, amounts to a market division that has prevented new shows, and Ashley in particular, from entering the market.

 The second claim alleges a conspiracy among certain recognized shows and the directors of those shows to apply AHSA rules in a manner intended to protest established shows from the competition threatened by new market entrants.

 The third claim alleges a second conspiracy to reduce the number of recognized shows in the Middle and Northeast so that shows in other regions will obtain a competitive advantage. This conspiracy is also allegedly intended to insulate existing shows from competition and to reduce the chances of plaintiffs' obtaining recognition for "A" shows, all in violation of the Sherman Act.

 The fourth claim alleges that certain already recognized shows and directors of those shows have engaged in a series of acts designed to interfere with and eliminate Ashley's and Swann's participation in horse showing. These acts allegedly include encouraging AHSA members to bring frivolous claims against Ashley and selectively enforcing AHSA rules against Ashley. The consequence of this capricious, arbitrary, and harassing enforcement of AHSA rules has allegedly been the improper imposition of fines on both Ashley and Swann, in her capacity as President of Ashley. Further, the wrongful enforcement of AHSA rules has allegedly damaged the reputation of both Ashley and Swann.

 Swann has claimed the following personal injuries as a consequence of the facts alleged in the four claims:

 a) Ashley's failure to pay Swann any salary, as a result of Ashley's diminished profits;

 b) expenses incurred in defending against charges brought by defendant;

 c) fines imposed by defendant upon Swann in her capacity as President of Ashley; and

 d) damages to her reputation as a consequence of the various ...


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