The opinion of the court was delivered by: Griesa, District Judge.
This a class action antitrust suit for damages and
injunctive relief. Plaintiffs, owners and breeders of purebred
Labrador Retriever dogs ("Labs"), claim that rival breeders and
sellers of Labs conspired to cause one defendant, the Labrador
Retriever Club ("LRC"), to recommend, and the other defendant,
the American Kennel Club ("AKC"), to adopt, a new rule concerning
breed standards for AKC-registered, purebred Championship Stock
Labrador Retrievers ("Champion Labs"). The new breed standard
requires Labs to be of a certain height in order to compete in
AKC dog shows for the title of Champion Lab. The attainment of
that title increases the market value of a purebred Lab.
Plaintiffs allege that the new rule operates to exclude from the
market for Champion Labs a large number of the dogs that
plaintiffs breed from English bloodlines, but includes in the
market the narrower and taller Labs more recently developed in
the United States that are bred and sold by plaintiffs'
Plaintiffs and defendants have filed cross-motions for summary
judgment on claims 1-5 of the complaint alleging violations of
the Sherman Act §§ 1 and 2, 15 U.S.C. § 1, 2. Claims 6 and 7
alleging state corporate law violations are not addressed by
Defendants' motion is granted and plaintiffs' cross-motion is
denied. Claims 1-5 are dismissed. The court declines to retain
jurisdiction over the state law claims (6 and 7). Accordingly,
the entire action is dismissed without prejudice to plaintiffs to
renew the state law claims in state court.
Plaintiff class representatives are six individual owners,
breeders and sellers of purebred Labs. Defendant AKC is a
not-for-profit corporation chartered by the New York Legislature
for the protection and advancement of purebred dogs. Membership in
the AKC consists of more than 500 dog clubs from across the
country. The AKC's chartered purposes include advancement of the
breeding, exhibition and maintenance of the purity of purebred
dogs, as well as the adoption and enforcement of rules regulating
and governing competitive dog shows. The bulk of the AKC's
revenues are generated through registration fees and show entries
at AKC dog shows and at performance events. The AKC does not
compete or engage in the breeding, selling or showing of Labs.
The AKC currently registers 145 breeds of purebred dogs. The
majority of these registered breeds each have parent clubs which
assume primary responsibility for promoting and advancing each
club's particular breed. The LRC is a not-for-profit corporation
and the parent club for the Labrador Retriever breed. The LRC's
membership consists of several hundred individual Lab enthusiasts
from across the country. The LRC does not compete or engage in
the breeding, selling or showing of Labs.
Pursuant to the AKC's constitution, each registered breed's
parent club has the responsibility of defining the standard for
its breed. The "standard" for a given breed of purebred dog,
including that of the Labrador Retriever, refers to a detailed,
written, descriptive account of the physical characteristics — for
instance, size, shape and coat — as well as movement and
temperament, that are considered definitive of that breed. The
breed standards are then used by judges at AKC-registered dog
shows to measure and compare the quality of dogs competing in the
shows. A particular physical characteristic included in the breed
standard may be stated in one of two ways. It may simply be
expressed as a recommendation or preference which AKC judges can
then use to compare the quality of dogs competing in a show; or
it may be stated as mandatory such that a dog that does not
exhibit that characteristic is disqualified from competition in
The AKC's constitution provides that the amendment or revision
of a breed standard by the parent club for that breed does not
become effective until it is approved by the AKC's board of
directors. The LRC's constitution provides that amendments to the
Labrador Retriever breed standard must be approved by the members
of the LRC, and that such amendments only become effective after
their subsequent approval by the AKC board of directors.
In practice, the LRC's recommendation, and AKC's adoption, of
an amendment to the Labrador Retriever breed standard pursuant to
their respective charters follows a multi-staged process, as the
facts in this case demonstrate. First, a revision committee
within the LRC drafts the proposed amendment and then votes by a
majority to present the amendment for a vote by the LRC
membership at large. A majority vote by the members of the LRC in
favor of the amendment then operates to recommend the change to
the AKC board of directors which must also vote by majority to
adopt the amendment before it becomes effective.
The issues in this case involve a 1994 amendment to the breed
standard for Labrador Retrievers. The breed standard in effect
prior to the 1994 amendment was approved by the AKC in 1957. The
1957 standard stated in pertinent part:
Height at Shoulders — Dogs —
22 1/2 inches to 24 1/2 inches; bitches — 21
1/2 inches to 23 1/2 inches.
As plaintiffs observe, the text of the 1957 height
specification for the Labrador Retriever breed provided no
express guidance as to whether it was intended merely as a
recommendation or as a mandatory requirement for the breed.
Plaintiffs contend that the shorter Labs from English bloodlines,
bred and owned by plaintiffs, do not generally rise to the height
described in the standard, whereas the taller American Labs do.
The practical result of the 1957 standard was that, prior to the
1994 amendment, the height specification for Labs was not
enforced as a strict requirement for purebred Labs to enter and
compete in AKC-sponsored dog shows. Because height is only one of
many attributes that are judged at the shows, dogs such as those
belonging to plaintiffs, that fell below the height standard,
were able to place and even win in dog show competitions based on
superior quality in other facets of the breed standard.
In August 1989 the LRC submitted to the AKC board of directors
a proposed, revised Labrador Retriever breed standard that
had been drafted and approved by the LRC Revision Committee
and approved by the vote of 72% of the LRC membership that
participated in the vote. The proposal incorporated various
changes not challenged in the present case. It retained the same
height specification from the breed standard that was passed
in 1957, again with no express statement as to whether the
specification was a recommendation or mandatory.
Following submission of the proposed revised standard to the
AKC board, the AKC received a number of letters in opposition
to the revisions. The AKC subsequently returned the proposed
standard to the LRC in November 1989 for further consideration of
the criticisms raised.
In January 1993 the AKC board of directors received a second
proposed revised standard from the LRC which had been approved by
68% of the LRC members voting. The second proposed standard again
retained the original height specification from the 1957 breed
standard. However, the new proposal provided for the first time
that compliance with the height specification was mandatory.
Specifically, it provided that any deviation from the height
specification would constitute a disqualifying fault, meaning
that a judge in a dog show would disqualify a dog not conforming
to the height specified in the standard. Again, the AKC received
letters in opposition to the new breed standard. The submissions
on the present motions do not expressly state that this opposition
related to the mandatory height requirement, but the implication
is that at least part of the opposition related to this subject.
The LRC membership subsequently approved several amendments to
the second ...