AKC-ATFTC LAWSUIT RESULTS
AKC judge filed multi-million dollar libel suit against the ATFTC President Roger Pritchard and AKC President Dennis Sprung.
January 9, 2010 | TheDogPress Club News
Barbara (BJ) Andrews, Editor-In-Chief
Pritchard Wins - Dog Clubs Lose. The plaintiff’s illness and added stress of the multi-million dollar federal action by the plaintiff ATFTC Board Member Barbara Quast ended when Barbara Quast passed away in May 2010. Quast went forward with a lawsuit against ATFTC (American Toy Fox Terrier Club) President Roger Pritchard and a corollary suit against AKC (American Kennel Club) President Dennis Sprung, in hopes of achieving justice for herself and for the membership of the Toy Fox Terrier Club.
Barbara Quast, a surgical nursing director, is an orally controlled diabetic with advanced circulatory problems, peripheral neuropathy, severe osteoarthritis, gout, both knees replaced, early Parkinson’s, early kidney disease, cardiomyopathy with fourth degree heart failure, and arterial fibrillation.
The cog in the wheel of justice is Roger Pritchard’s refusal to apologize for having libeled Barbara Quast. In contrast, AKC’s legal counsel was conciliatory, supportive of her position and willing to settle.
Links to complete coverage are provided below but the heart of the case is the malicious, libelous email (shown at left) that Roger Pritchard wrote to AKC judge/club member Dana Plonky and inadvertently (or deliberatly) cc'd to Barbara Quast.
Nancy Guttenberg, attorney for the Plaintiff, says Pritchard’s attorney refutes libel charges on the grounds that Roger’s good friend Dana Plonky never received that e-mail. Fellow AKC judge Dana Plonky’s denial may defy belief but it is an effective legal maneuver because you can't prove a negative. Thus it can not be proven that Plonky received Pritchard’s email, sent to him under the guise of not having Quast’s address.
Why did Pritchard send the malicious post asking that it be forwarded to Quast when in fact, her email address has been the same for years and Roger cc’d her in the same post? A logical person would see it as a transparent excuse to start a rumor that Quast had been suspended by AKC.
Quast is a Toy Fox Terrier Club member, former board member, show chair, and American Kennel Club judge. Her email address is as easy to find as looking on the membership list or in the AKC judges’ book. It is patently clear that Pritchard had Quast’s email address at the time he emailed Dana Plonky, a prolific breeder, judge, and a close associate of Roger Pritchard. It is not known how many other people received the email as a blind CC or if indeed Plonky sent it on...
Club members are outraged that Pritchard used the Toy Fox Terrier Club insurance policy and/or club funds to defend himself. In his November 2009 President’s Report Pritchard said “as soon as the lawsuit has been resolved, I will proceed to recover any monies the ATFTC has had to spend” which is interpreted as an acknowledgement that he knew the use of club resources for his personal defense was at the least, improper, most would say, dishonest. Pritchard, who uses "Dr." in front of his name, is surely intelligent enough to have known it was not the Club that was being sued.
Members have asked the board whether the suit has been defended by the club’s liability insurance. No answer. There is a line in the Treasurer’s report that indicates two payments to the insurance company, believed to be well in excess of the yearly premium. We are told by one inside source that Pritchard’s lawyers filed several briefs even as as billable hours continued to mount. Members are entitled to know how their dues are spent but as has been the case under Pritchard’s presidency, no board member will respond to any request for information.
Parent Clubs are watching this case knowing that lawsuits, properly or improperly defended by club insurance will increase premiums across the board. Current cases of dog club embezzlement also portend added expense to all breed clubs.
American Kennel Club Trademark. Judges watch to see what AKC does about Roger's email address, RogerAKC@aol.com. It has been called an "unfair trade practice" in that it also appears that way in the AKC Judges Directory. We have heard of one AKC judge whose license plate reads, accurately, AKC-Judge but no one can recall anyone other than an AKC employee or Board Member ever using the privileged AKC trademark except in the standard AKC format, xyz@AKC.org Does Pritchard's use of the mark when communicating with kennel clubs and show chairs give him unfair advantage in getting judging assignments for himself or his friends? Judges say "yes".
Informed ATFTC members charge that Roger Pritchard hijacked their club, took over its treasury, used and approved club funds for personal gain and to silence a former board member, and insured his stranglehold by manipulating election procedure in flagrant violation of prescribed procedure and bylaws. The Board has not denied any of those charges. Indicative of his misuse of power, Pritchard tried to have a club member (and former opponent for office) removed from the Annual Meeting for politely asking a question. In that, he was not successful but by the time the ruckus was over and the police officers had left the meeting room, Pritchard had successfully evaded her question.
In this litigation, Pritchard has also been successful. Under his leadership, the ATFTC had already received an official AKC reprimand but he stubbornly risked the club again by refusing something as simple as an apology to Quast. It was a calculated risk that paid off. Quast gave up the legal challenge rather than suffer further stress and damage to her fragile health and in realization that Roger Pritchard’s refusal to settle jeopardized the parent club.
In having apparently subjugated and convinced the Toy Fox Terrier Club board to use its meager assets in violation of the bylaws, the club’s non-profit state charter and future AKC show approvals are at risk. Quast acknowledged that continued litigation against Pritchard further exposes the club she served.
A source close to Ms. Quast said “When you’ve been a working club member for years and someone from outside the breed takes over and lays waste to the club’s Constitution and Bylaws, you feel compelled to protect what you believed in but there comes a time when you have to ask yourself if it’s worth it.”
Roger won. Quast withdrew. Did justice prevail? You decide.
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