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Rappaport v. McElroy (1995)

Plaintiff's Attorney:   Michael Rotsten (Encino)

Topic: Veterinary Malpractice

Jurisdiction:   California - In the Municipal Court of Los Angeles Judicial District, County of Los Angeles, State of California (Van Nuys Branch)

Year Case Filed:   1995


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In this California case, plaintiff sued a veterinarian for giving his exotic pet (a Serval cat), a flea treatment known to be toxic to cats.  In September of 1995, plaintiff brought his cat to defendant for a “check-up” and to treat an apparent flea infestation around the cat’s neck.  Defendant, a licensed veterinarian, prescribed a product called “Spotton,” and did not advise plaintiff that the product was approved only for use on cattle and, was in fact, toxic to felines.  Approximately a month later, Khan began exhibiting signs of extreme weakness.  Upon bringing Khan back to the defendant-veterinarian two days later, Khan died while at the veterinary office.  Plaintiff requested a necropsy to determine the cause of death.  After calling the office several weeks later, plaintiff was first told he would be given the results by phone.  Several days later, plaintiff was told by the veterinary clinic that Khan’s body was missing, and records obtained from the office showed no necropsy had ever been conducted.  Moreover, plaintiff’s complaint states that defendant-veterinarian held himself out to be an expert in the care and treatment of exotic cats.

Plaintiff’s complaint alleged several causes of action, including veterinary malpractice, trespass to chattel, gross negligence, intentional and/or spoliation of evidence, willful injury to animals, and conversion.  The veterinary malpractice action focused on defendant’s negligence in failing to exercise a reasonable level of knowledge and skill ordinarily possessed by others practicing veterinary medicine.  In fact, plaintiff contended that it is well known in the field and indicated by the manufacturer of Spotton, that the drug should not be used on felines.  In the spoliation of evidence claims, plaintiff suggests that defendant either intentionally or negligently concealed or damaged the remains of the cat while knowing the potential for a lawsuit.  Plaintiff prayed for damages in the amount of $25,000, which included lost wages, the commercial value of the cat, and loss of companionship, among other things.

Chronology of Documents:

Complaint for Damages – (09/25/1995) (pdf. file 540 KB)

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