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Stolen embryos?

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  • Stolen embryos?

    Here's the scenario: there's a trainer in Florida who has long been suspected of "stealing" embryos from the mares that are in his care. He was asked in a court document to:

    19. Admit that you extracted a second embryo from the horse S, without prior consent from the horse's owner, H M.

    Here is how he answered:

    "Request number 19 is denied as to the extraction of a "second embryo" because only one embryo was extracted after the horse had been used to carry and give birth to a live foal. The horse was in the plaintiff's possession under an arrangement which allowed him to use the horse for breeding. Therefore, although it is admitted that no specific consent was sought from the owner for the extraction of the embryo, such specific consent was not required."

    Is he basically saying that it's okay for him to help himself to an embryo, because the mare's owner didn't tell him not to? Is this legal? Ethical? Would you be okay if someone you trusted to board your horse extracted an embryo for themselves?
    Thank you for any information.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Ponytailponygirl View Post
    Here's the scenario: there's a trainer in Florida who has long been suspected of "stealing" embryos from the mares that are in his care. He was asked in a court document to:

    19. Admit that you extracted a second embryo from the horse S, without prior consent from the horse's owner, H M.

    Here is how he answered:

    "Request number 19 is denied as to the extraction of a "second embryo" because only one embryo was extracted after the horse had been used to carry and give birth to a live foal. The horse was in the plaintiff's possession under an arrangement which allowed him to use the horse for breeding. Therefore, although it is admitted that no specific consent was sought from the owner for the extraction of the embryo, such specific consent was not required."

    Is he basically saying that it's okay for him to help himself to an embryo, because the mare's owner didn't tell him not to? Is this legal? Ethical? Would you be okay if someone you trusted to board your horse extracted an embryo for themselves?
    Thank you for any information.
    I think you might have missed the part I put in bold. Sounds like the boarding arrangement included the use of the mare for breeding, not that he bred the mare without the owners knowledge.

    I suspect the arrangement came to a bad end and the owner is angry that the trainer might have attained more than one foal, giving himself a better deal than anticipated. I see absolutely nothing that indicates anyone was secretly breeding mares and stealing embryos.

    YMMV

    Comment


    • #3
      Aah I can never resist these legal questions! I should probably ditch contracts and go into equine law..

      First of all, is he pro se? If not...I have to wonder about the competence of his attorney in drafting that answer... If there was no "second embryo," a competent attorney would have just denied without venturing an explanation. But ANYWAY, I realize that is not what you're asking.

      Is he basically saying that he thinks it's okay that he extracted the embryo and consent was not required? Yup, sounds like it. And no, in my opinion, that is not ethical, and depending on the circumstances, likely not legal either. Was he boarding the mare though? He claims in his answer that she was in the plaintiff's possession...? (In which case, his actions would be even more nefarious, in my opinion.)

      Glad it looks like this guy is finally facing legal action for a practice, as you say, he's been suspected of for a long time.

      Comment


      • #4
        We need to know more about the original agreement/contract.

        This
        The horse was in the plaintiff's possession under an arrangement which allowed him to use the horse for breeding.
        sounds to me like a breeding lease.

        Whether or not doing an ET in addition to a live birth was permitted, depends on how the original agreement was worded.

        If it just said "use the mare for breeding from X date to Y date", then he was probably within his rights to do the ET.

        If the agreement said "one pregnancy, carried to term" or similar, then he would not be allowed to do the ET.
        Janet

        chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).

        Comment


        • #5
          I knew of a place a few years ago where the BO would collect the stallions without the owners knowing, and either use the semen on his own mares or sell it. I can see how an owner who didn't go in every single day could miss it, but not when we are talking about mares...
          www.facebook.com/lusitanos4sale

          Comment


          • #6
            Sounds like you both know this trainer and that he already has a reputation for dishonesty.

            I have made deals several times to board mares at no cost to the owner in exchange for breeding privileges while they are in my care. I pay all expenses and do not always consult with the owners, who are not breeders, about my breeding decisions. If I chose to do ET and was lucky enough to get two embryos I would not consider one stolen, nor would I feel the owner had stolen a year of boarding from me if I failed to get a foal. This arrangement has worked very well for us, but we are always honest about our intentions.

            Comment


            • #7
              I think it would need to be pursued as a breach of contract, but you would need a binding agreement and the ability to show that it had actually been breached. If it was a simple breeding lease without specifics giving him breeding rights in exchange for board, I doubt you could collect damages for her being bred while he was providing board.

              Perhaps she could use the mares deplorable condition as proof he was not providing care, but that can be difficult to prove as well.

              I would be devastated to get a mare back in poor shape, but don't understand why she would send a mare out on a breeding lease (if this was one) if she would be devastated to learn of an ET.

              Comment


              • #8
                ooh..I was assuming the Plaintiff in whose possession the horse was was the owner and not the trainer who is accused of extracting the embryo. If the trainer had possession of the mare for breeding purposes (under a breeding lease, as speculated), not sure there is a cause of action for the extraction-- would be a question of reasonableness and industry standards. Still might be a case for negligent entrustment though, if the mare was really returned in a deplorable condition.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by tuckawayfarm View Post
                  If I chose to do ET and was lucky enough to get two embryos I would not consider one stolen, nor would I feel the owner had stolen a year of boarding from me if I failed to get a foal. This arrangement has worked very well for us, but we are always honest about our intentions.
                  Reading between the lines. I think that the "question form the court" is referring to the live birth as the "first embryo", and the ET embryo as the "second embryo" .

                  The plaintiff on the other hand seems to want to use the term "embryo" only to refer to the ET, not the live birth. So in saying "there was no second embryo", he seems to be saying " There was only one embryo used for ET, not 2".

                  I am curious why the "trainer" is the plaintiff, presumably suing the owner.
                  Janet

                  chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Ponytailponygirl
                    If there was such an agreement that allowed this breeder free access to other embryos, it was tacitly implied. However, the mare owner had no idea that her mare would be bred beyond the one live birth.
                    Mare owner having no idea does not mean it was not allowed. It depends on how the contract was written.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Embryo transfer is a very simple procedure that is highly unlikely to cause any damage whatsoever to a mare. I have done ETs with my performance mares many times. There is much more risk to a mare that carries a foal.

                      That said, this whole situation seems to be a perfect example of why every business agreement should be covered thoroughly in a well written contract. Oral agreements leave way too much room for misunderstandings.

                      IMHO, returning the mare in deplorable condition is a much higher sin than doing an ET with a mare. I hope that the dispute gets a fair resolution.
                      Mary Lou
                      http://www.homeagainfarm.com

                      https://www.facebook.com/HomeAgainFarmHanoverians

                      Member OMGiH I loff my mares clique

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        In regards to the effects of an ET on a mares body there is virtually none. The mare is bred as normal then the embryo(s) is flushed at a specific time, then inserted into a recip mare who then carries the foal hopefully to term. The only thing the actual mare is giving up is an egg, which she would still do if she was left open and continued to cycle/ovulate.

                        You see alot of embryo transfers in the QH industry, where one mare can have multiple babies in a year without ever having to carry one. To me it takes the risk out of having the 'prized' mare carry a baby to term and then loosing both mare and foal due to complications. If I had the money I'd do it in a herartbeat for my broodmare. She's done having babies because she is now too arthritic to carry the extra weight.

                        Not saying the trainer is in the right, although a written contract should have been done to protect the actual mare... I'd be more upset about getting back the mare in poor condition than anything. But I'd also be making randon visits to check on her.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Ponytailponygirl
                          He's not suing the mare owner. He's being sued by someone else.
                          If he is being sued, why is he called the plaintiff?

                          Or is someoe else, not the owner, not the trainer (who was in possession of the horse) the palintiff? Thoroughly confused.
                          Janet

                          chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Ponytailponygirl
                            . The mare owner was devastated upon discovering that he had performed an in-utero transfer without her knowledge.
                            Devastated? Devastated?

                            I could understand 'annoyed', just on the basis of "well, I shoulda been more specific in the contract, that was stupid of me"-- because really, this is a contract dispute, not a criminal case, unless the mare was an Olympic horse given the expense of ET no sane judge is going to consider the embryo valuable enough to qualify as a legit 'crime'.... Or 'angry' if there is now a personal problem between the two and they're mad he benefitted more than they expected..... But devastated?

                            Also confused who the plaintiff is.

                            Jennifer
                            Third Charm Event Team

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Janet View Post
                              If he is being sued, why is he called the plaintiff?

                              Or is someoe else, not the owner, not the trainer (who was in possession of the horse) the palintiff? Thoroughly confused.
                              Originally posted by ThirdCharm View Post

                              Also confused who the plaintiff is.

                              Jennifer
                              Not to muddy the waters here, but my take on this is that there is the lawsuit and a counter claim, where the defendant is pro se (but probably filed the counter claim naming himself as the plaintiff in the case caption). And the only attorney involved in this fell asleep a few years ago, but no one has noticed (which accounts for the answer to #19). Or, what we have in the OP’s post is just a summary of an interrogatory answer.

                              I suspect that the pro se party has already seen some interrogatory answers (possibly in this action) that “admit” in part, and “deny” in part… and he/she has used “admit” in a novel / colloquial manner. E.g. "I would like you to admit that you are wrong and I am right."

                              We did an ET with a 22 year-old donor mare... she was absolutely fine and got in foal twice after the ET. I think there's a bit of blame for all parties: there is no excuse for returning the mare in poor condition, I don't see a cause of action for the ET, and I would not use this trainer, but I also would not allow someone to breed my mare without a well written contract.
                              Last edited by Cartier; May. 8, 2013, 06:59 PM.
                              Logres Farm on Facebook
                              http://logresfarmpintowarmbloods.com/
                              http://logresdobermans.com/

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Ponytailponygirl
                                She was devastated because when the mare was returned to her, she was at death's door.
                                Being devastated at the mare's condition is one thing, and perfectly justified.

                                But that is not what you said. You said she was devastated that an embryo had been taken without her knowledge, which is something quite different entirely.
                                Janet

                                chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Janet View Post
                                  Reading between the lines. I think that the "question form the court" is referring to the live birth as the "first embryo", and the ET embryo as the "second embryo" .

                                  The plaintiff on the other hand seems to want to use the term "embryo" only to refer to the ET, not the live birth. So in saying "there was no second embryo", he seems to be saying " There was only one embryo used for ET, not 2".

                                  I am curious why the "trainer" is the plaintiff, presumably suing the owner.
                                  I am not an attorney, nor do I play one on TV, but I agree with the above. I also feel that the court document itself was a bit unclear.

                                  "19. Admit that you extracted a second embryo from the horse S, without prior consent from the horse's owner,"

                                  Plaintiff (i.e., the trainer) either mistakenly assumed the question referred to extraction of two embryos, or deliberately chose to interpret it that way.

                                  But if there wasn't a written contract between owner and trainer specifying the trainer had the right to only ONE foal, my guess is the owner is out of luck. I wouldn't think a court would rule against the trainer based on the owner's "assumption" the trainer would only use the mare one time for a foal. Sucks for the owner, and while I feel the trainer is both sneaky and rather shady, I would be surprised if the court found in the owner's favor on this issue.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Ponytailponygirl
                                    Sorry. My mistake. He's the Plaintiff, AND the counterdefendant. The parties he sued, have sued him in turn. It's a hot mess.
                                    Why is he suing the owner? He was the one that extracted the embryo without her knowledge or consent.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      I don't understand this thread at all.

                                      First we have a mare owner irate that an embryo was taken from her mare without her knowledge, then it's disclosed this might have occurred during a breeding lease. Now we find out that the owner is really upset because the mare was returned "at death's door." Seriously??? At death's door and that doesn't come up until page 2?

                                      As I'm sure the owner had a vet out immediately upon the mares return, she should have unbiased documentation on the mare's condition. Personally, I would forget about trying to sue over an oral contract where the parties don't agree about what was said. Instead, I would be posting the vet's report, along with before and after photos, stating the trainer and location where the mare had been cared for over the past year.

                                      Jingles for the mare.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Ponytailponygirl
                                        It's a hot mess.
                                        Everything around him usually is.

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