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Former AKC/CHF Director Deborah Lynch awarded $544,000 plus monetary damages in her suit against the AKC Canine Health Foundation, which included former CHF President, popular AKC judge John Studebaker. 

05|09|05 TheDogPress - AKC never loses but this time it did when the former Director of the Canine Health Foundation sued for discrimination, defamation, etc.  The story begins here with two official releases by the American Kennel Club, followed by letter to TheDogPress from AKC's VP and General Counsel, and links to coverage by AKC Historian, Louis Fallon.


New York, NY – The American Kennel Club (AKC) has been informed by the AKC Canine Health Foundation of an unfavorable verdict in the case of Deborah Lynch v. AKC/CHF.

The AKC shares their disappointment and is hopeful that an appeal will prove favorable.  In spite of this outcome, the AKC is proud of the AKC Canine Health Foundation and all that it has achieved and will continue to support the important work of the Foundation to improve the health and welfare of all dogs.

Founded in 1995, the AKC Canine Health Foundation is a registered 501(c)3 public nonprofit organization governed separately by its own board.

AKC Canine Health Foundation Statement on Lawsuit

Contact:  Deborah (DD) A. DiLalla   

RALEIGH, NC – May 4, 2005 – We have received the results of the lawsuit brought by Mrs. Deborah Lynch, a former employee of our organization.  The plaintiff received a judgment in the sum of $544,000.  We are extremely disappointed and will certainly appeal this verdict.

 We want all concerned donors and supporters of the foundation to be assured that we believe that our insurance will cover any eventual liability and that their contributions, both past and future are secure and will be used for their intended purpose.

 The AKC Canine Health Foundation has an outstanding record of funding important canine health research, including groundbreaking revolutionary methods of combating the dreaded diseases that affect dogs and humans alike.

 Please log on to our web site at to learn more about the Foundation.  Your continued support is very important to us and to your dogs.

 The AKC Canine Health Foundation, founded in 1995 by the American Kennel Club, is the largest nonprofit worldwide to fund health research exclusively for canines. Its goal is to help dogs live longer, healthier lives. Because more than 97 percent of the canine genome is the same as the human genome, much of the research on canine diseases applies to people  as well. In this, our tenth anniversary, the AKC Canine Health Foundation is proud to announce it has allocated more than $13 million in canine health research through 52 schools and research institutions for about 270 studies. About 75 studies have been completed, with results that include identifying genetic markers for diseases. For more information about how you can “Double the Dollars for Dogs” see, or call toll free 1-888-682-9696.

05|08|05  TheDogPress Editor and Staff - Neither the American Kennel Club nor the AKC/CHF statements say much but then what do we expect? What can either organization say that doesn’t sound like someone is guilty of Age Discrimination, Defamation of Character, and unfair Retaliation against former Executive VP Debbie Lynch?

The AKC Canine Health Foundation lost!  To the tune of over half a million!  Of course it will appeal but this should never have happened in the first place.  The CHF serves a marvelous purpose and under the strong leadership of John Studebaker (an AKC Judge who pioneered DNA for the canine) it accomplished a lot of good before President Studebaker was replaced this March. 

Studebaker was also held personally liable for financial damages.  Former President Howard Falberg escaped the jury’s wrath with only an $8,000 penalty compared to the $60,000 cost to Studebaker.  If the appeal is lost, AKC’s insurance will pay the personal liability awards against Falberg and Studebaker.  One might wonder how costly the appeal will be because we’re told that Ms. Lynch’s attorney is top-notch in the employee-employer field and rarely loses.  So the battle, if fought again, may turn out the same.  Read that as costly!

 Why didn’t the AKC/CHF just “let her go” with a nice severance package?  That’s what AKC does.  What exactly did Canine Health Foundation officials do by way of Retaliation?  It is generally considered as getting even with someone for filing a suit. 

AKC set up the AKC Canine Health Foundation as a separate entity.  Non profits are designed to accept direct contributions and in this case, to direct funds towards projects to benefit dogs.  The AKC/CHF has done that. 

 Notably, AKC just committed another two million to the CHF, and one might presume a good portion of that will be used to help offset legal fees.  It would seem that they are not exactly totally and distinctly separate but that is often the case with spin-off corps and subsidiaries. Surely AKC, as the largest contributor to the Foundation, would have some oversight or input and if so, perhaps the AKC Board should be held partially responsible for not staying on top of its multi-million dollar beneficiary. 

 We will keep you informed of appeals and progress but in the meantime, don’t hesitate to support the AKC Canine Health Foundation.  There is no guarantee that the Donations will go to the dogs instead of the lawyers but the CHF has made possible huge advances in canine health.  It will continue to do so, and with the amount of non-taxable income projected, this lawsuit is just a little bump in the road albeit one which could have been avoided.

06|03|05 - UPDATE: In offering background and sharing reader's speculation, we took some criticism regarding the syntax on the headline, for which we apologize.  We also received a tremendous volume of supportive mail and comments from readers.  The jury decision is under appeal. 

We requested information from AKC, but so far all that has been forthcoming is an email exchange from AKC's VP and General Counsel.

We welcome your comments and remain responsive to your criticisms.  One such criticism came in the form of a second directive from the AKC General Counsel, Mr. Michael Swick, to wit:

>> My email was clear. Your article was totally incorrect as regards the American Kennel Club. We do not find it acceptable. If you want detail, we suggest you call CHF which was the party to the lawsuit and can answer your questions. Simply put you need to retract and state that the AKC was not a party to the lawsuit so therefore no judgement was entered against the AKC.  You may consider this official so no further speculation is necessary. 
Michael F. Swick, VP / General Counsel, AKC, 212-696-8311 <<

We sincerely hope Mr. Swick's email clears up any misconception we might have created with any comment we made when publishing the official releases from AKC and AKC CHF.  We invite AKC, CHF, or any individual to comment on the situation, including the details provided in an article by Mr. Fallon (link below). 

We will publish newsworthy information and as alluded to by Dog News, if there is any proven error in reportage, we will retract or correct our error.  In the meantime, the story stands as published. 

The AKC/CHF story has been downplayed by the weekly and monthly dog publications.  We agree it is a sad situation from any perspective but we believe the story should be available to the fancy, not buried under "all is fine" comments.

The email from AKC General Counsel is greatly respected but there are details not covered in the official press releases.  It is not a pretty picture but Woman Bites CFH presents more of the story by our AKC Historian, a man who KNOWS the AKC. 

Before you go to Fallon's coverage, you should know that allegations have surfaced indicating that the AKC/CHF Board, just days before the trial, backed a request by new President Wayne Ferguson to indemnify those who might bear a financial loss.  We're told CHF attorneys were saying all was ok, so why was this done?  And was it actually illegal? 

Of course there are two sides to that story but neither one gives the AKC/CHF a pass on the charge that money donated in good faith was pledged to guarantee protection for Board Members!  If former CHF Presidents Studebaker and Falberg were acting on behalf of the AKC/CHF, then maybe the CHF board should take the financial hit?  If they were acting without the knowledge, approval or consent of the AKC/CHF when they did further damage to Ms. Lynch (as decided by the jury) then they should pay the piper themselves. 

In either scenario, why should money contributed to benefit the dogs be used to offset $70,000 damages for former officers?  What a sad day for the dogs. 

That was all the official news, GO TO CHF LAWSUIT to read the "rest of the story."  Inside Information direct from Deborah Lynch and Louis Fallon.



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