Veterinarian Issues: Related Cases
|Price v. Brown, V.M.D.||131 Montg. Co. L. R. 150 (1994)||Plaintiff's bull dog went to defendant veterinarian for surgery to correct a prolapsed urethra. The dog died a few days later. The plaintiff then sought to recover the value of the dog on a strict theory of bailment. Defendant filed a preliminary objection asserting that this doctrine was inapplicable and could not afford relief. The court held that the plaintiff had failed to state a claim from which relief could be sought and dismissed the complaint. The court, however, allowed the plaintiff to amend the compliant.In holding to sustain the defendant's preliminary objection, the court reasoned that since veterinarians are part of a professional discipline, in order to recover damages for the injury or the death to an animal entrusted to a veterinarian's care, a plaintiff must prove professional negligence instead of a bailiff arrangement.|
|Quesada v. Compassion First Pet Hosps||No. A-1226-19, 2021 WL 1235136 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. Apr. 1, 2021)||In this unpublished case, plaintiff’s cat “Amor” was euthanized after being diagnosed with heart failure disease and saddle thrombus. At the hospital, plaintiff was visibly affected by the death of his cat, who he was allowed to say goodbye to. Plaintiff also talked and sang to Amor’s body until the body was retrieved. Plaintiff was informed that during the procedure Amor had bitten one of the nurses and that state law required a brain tissue sample to rule out rabies. Plaintiff informed the veterinarian of his wish to display Amor's body for viewing prior to cremation in two different instances. Neither the procedure or alternative procedures were explained to the plaintiff. At the body’s viewing, the plaintiff discovered that his cat had been decapitated. Plaintiff became extremely emotional after discovering his cat’s head had been disposed of as medical waste. As a result of the decapitation, plaintiff developed several severe mental health issues. Plaintiff filed a claim alleging negligent infliction of emotional distress, negligence, and bailment. The case was dismissed for Plaintiff’s failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Plaintiff appealed the decision alleging that the lower court had mistakenly applied the standard of the bystander negligent infliction of emotional distress, instead of a direct liability claim and error in dismissing his remaining negligence and bailment claims. The court agreed with the plaintiff and reversed the dismissal and remanded for further proceedings. On the count of negligent infliction of emotional distress, the court held that plaintiff’s claim did not fall under the "bystander" liability as his severe emotional distress arose after the passing of his cat and upon seeing his cat's decapitated body. Additionally, the court stated that plaintiff’s “emotional reaction combined with the fact that defendant was twice on notice that plaintiff intended to have a viewing of his cat's body prior to cremation established that defendants owed plaintiff a duty.” Defendants breached this duty by being on notice of plaintiff emotional distress and failing to properly inform plaintiff of the typical procedure of decapitating the cat for rabies testing, inform him of alternative testing procedures, and failing to request that the cat's head be returned after decapitation and prior to the showing. Suffering of plaintiff’s illnesses was still to be determined. The court found that the plaintiff “had pleaded a direct claim of negligent infliction of emotional distress sufficient to withstand a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim.” A claim of bailment had also been appropriately pleaded since plaintiff had given defendants control of his cat's body and defendant returned it in a damaged condition.|
|Rehn v. Fischley||No. C0-95-813, 1995 Minn. App. LEXIS 1539 (Minn. Ct. App. 1995).||
The doctor was a veterinarian and a member of the board of directors for the humane society. The director of the humane society asked her for advice on how to clean cat cages, and the doctor gave advice and donated a bottle of formalin, whereupon the employee who used the formalin suffered permanent lung damage. The employee commenced an action against the doctor and humane society for damages. The court held that although the doctor would not have advised using formalin if she was not a member of the board, this fact did not establish that giving the advice was within the scope of her responsibilities as a board member.
|Ruden v. Hansen||206 N.W.2d 713 (Iowa 1973)||
This appeal stems from an action against a defendant veterinarian for the alleged negligent vaccination of plaintiff’s pregnant hogs (gilts). The court articulated the standard of care: "As a veterinarian defendant was duty bound to bring to his service the learning, skill and care which characterizes the profession generally. In other words, the care and diligence required was that as a careful and trustworthy veterinarian would be expected to exercise. . . We are convinced the correct standard of the veterinarian's care should be held to that exercised generally under similar circumstances."
|Rule v. Fort Dodge Animal Health, Inc.||604 F.Supp.2d 288 (D.Mass.,2009)||
The plaintiff brought this action against Defendants Fort Dodge Animal Health, Inc. and Wyeth Corporation, seeking economic damages suffered from the purchase and injection of her dog with ProHeart® 6 to prevent heartworm. The complaint alleged products liability/failure to warn, breach of implied warranty of merchantability, and violation of state deceptive business practices, among others. In 2004, defendants recalled ProHeart® 6 in response to a request by FDA due to reported adverse reactions. This Court found that Massachusetts law follows the traditional “economic loss rule,” where such losses are not recoverable in in tort and strict liability actions where there has been no personal injury or property damage. Here, the plaintiff was barred from recovering because she has not alleged any personal injury or property damage under her products liability claim. Further, plaintiff failed to show that defendants' deceptive act caused some injury and compsensable loss. Defendants' motion to dismiss was granted.
|Safford Animal Hospital v. Blain||580 P.2d 757 (Ariz.App.,1978)||
Appellant animal hospital sought review of the judgment entered against it for the injuries suffered by an individual after a cow escaped from the hospital and struck the man who owned the house to which the cow had run as the man tried to help the veterinarian secure the animal. The court held that appellant's liability is predicated upon its position as an owner or occupier of land whose duty with regard to the keeping of domestic animals is circumscribed under a bailment theory. Further the court held that the evidence supported the trial court's finding that appellant negligent under the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur.
|Scharer v. San Luis Rey Equine Hosp., Inc.||147 Cal.Rptr.3d 921 (Cal.App. 4 Dist.)||
Horse owner sued veterinarians and equine hospital for professional malpractice after horse was euthanized less than two months after surgery to remove horse’s ovaries. The Superior Court granted summary judgment for defendants based on the one-year statute of limitations. The Court of Appeal affirmed, holding that equitable tolling did not apply because plaintiff was not prevented from pursuing her claim in a timely manner by the defendants or the court. A provision in the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act extending the statute of limitations by 90 days did not apply absent a claim for personal injury or wrongful death to a person.
|Sexton v. Brown||Not Reported in P.3d, 147 Wash.App. 1005, 2008 WL 4616705 (Wash.App. Div. 1)||
In this Washington case, Valeri Sexton and Corey Recla sued Kenny Brown, DVM, for damages arising from the death of their dog. Plaintiffs alleged a number of causes of action including negligence, breach of bailment, conversion, and trespass to chattels. The incident occurred after plaintiff's dog ran away while plaintiff was camping Marblemount area. Another party found the Yorkshire terrier and took it to defendant-veterinarian's office, the Pet Emergency Center (PEC). After being examined first by a one veterinarian, defendant-veterinarian Brown took over care and determined that the dog suffered from a life threatening condition; he then told the finders that if they did not want to pay for further care, they could have the dog euthanized. This court affirmed the trial court's decision that the medical malpractice act does not apply to veterinarians. It also affirmed the dismissal of Sexton's breach of bailment claim, finding that Brown was not a finder under relevant Washington law. The court did find that there were material issues of fact about the measure of damages, and reversed the decision to limit damages to the fair market or replacement value of the dog. Further, the court found genuine issues of material fact about whether Brown's actions were justified when viewed under the requirements of Washington's veterinary practice laws.
|Shera v. N.C. State University Veterinary Teaching Hosp.||723 S.E.2d 352 (N.C. Ct. App. 2012)||
After an animal hospital caused the death of a dog due to an improperly placed feeding tube, the dog owners sued for veterinary malpractice under the Tort Claims Act. The Court of Appeals held that the replacement value of the dog was the appropriate measure of damages, and not the intrinsic value. Owners’ emotional bond with the dog was not compensable under North Carolina law.
|Sherman v. Kissinger||195 P.3d 539 (Wash.,2008)||
A dog owner sued a veterinarian and a veterinary hospital after her dog died. The Court of Appeals held that the medical malpractice act did not apply to veterinarians, and thus, did not bar claims for breach of fiduciary duty, negligent misrepresentation, conversion, trespass to chattels, and breach of bailment contract; the three-part analysis in McCurdy controlled the measure of damages and the burden of proof for damages; genuine issues of material fact about the market value of the dog, whether it could be replaced, and whether owner was entitled to present evidence of the dog’s intrinsic value, precluded summary judgment limiting owner's damages; the trial court did not abuse its discretion in striking expert’s testimony about the loss of the human-animal bond because owner was not entitled to emotional distress damages; and defendants were not entitled to attorney fees under the small claims statute.
|Southall v. Gabel||277 N.E.2d 230 (Ohio App. 1971)||
This case resulted from the alleged negligent transport of a horse that resulted in a drastic change in the horse's temperament (to a "killer horse"), which ultimately led to its destruction by its owner. Before trial, defendant demurred to plaintiff's petition on the ground that the action was barred under R.C. s 2305.11, the act being 'malpractice' and therefore required to be brought within one year after the termination of treatment. The Court of Appeals held that the trial court's decision overruling the demurrer to plaintiff's petition was correct, 'the petitioner is based on negligence for the transporting rather than malpractice.' Further, the Court held that until the Supreme Court speaks, veterinarians are not included in the definition of malpractice (reversed and remanded - See , 293 N.E.2d 891 (Ohio, Mun.,1972).
|Southall v. Gabel||293 N.E.2d 891 (Ohio, Mun.,1972)||
This action was brought by plaintiff as owner of a 3 year old thoroughbred race horse, named Pribal, against defendant, a veterinarian, charging defendant so mishandled the horse that it sustained physical injuries and emotional trauma; that the emotional stability of the horse worsened until finally it was exterminated. The court held that the evidence failed to show any proximate cause between the surgery that was performed on the horse and the subsequent care and transport of the horse by the veterinarian.
As the court stated, what caused Pribal to become mean and a "killer" is speculative; the O.S.U. Veterinary Clinic records in evidence did not indicate any causal relationship between the handling of Pribal by the defendant and the subsequent personality change resulting in Pribal becoming a "killer horse."
|State v. Avella||--- So.3d ----, 2019 WL 2552529 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. June 21, 2019)||The Defendant was charged with practicing veterinary medicine without a license and for cruelty to animals. The Defendant made a homemade device attempting to treat his dog for a problem because he did not have the money to take his dog to the vet. The home treatment ended up injuring the dog and he took the dog to a veterinarian for treatment. The veterinarian stated that the dog needed to be taken to an advanced care veterinary facility, however, the Defendant could not do so due to lack of funds. The trial court dismissed the charges brought against the Defendant and the State of Florida appealed. Florida law forbids a person from practicing veterinary medicine without a license. The Defendant was not a veterinarian. The Defendant relied upon statutory exemptions in Florida’s statue that permit a person to care for his or her own animals and claims that he was just trying to help his dog, Thor. The Defendant also argued that the purpose of the statute was to prevent unlicensed veterinary care provided to the public rather than to criminalize the care an owner provides to his or her animals. The Court held that the trial court did not err in dismissing Count I for unlicensed practice of veterinary medicine given the stated purpose of the statute and the statutory exemptions. As for Count II, animal cruelty, the State argued that the Defendant’s conduct in using a homemade tool to remove bone fragments from the dog’s rectum and then failing to take the dog to an advanced care clinic fits under the Florida animal cruelty statute. Although the Defendant argued that he had no intention of inflicting pain upon his dog and was only trying to help him, the Court agreed with the State’s argument that “the statute does not require a specific intent to cause pain but punishes an intentional act that results in the excessive infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering.” Ultimately the Court affirmed the trial court’s dismissal of Count I, reversed the trial court’s dismissal of Count II and remanded for further proceedings on the animal cruelty charge.|
|Turner v. Benhart||527 SO.2d 717 (Ala. 1988).||
Plaintiff horse owner appealed a judgment of the Jefferson Circuit Court (Alabama) entered on a jury verdict in favor of defendant veterinarian in a malpractice action arising from the death of the owner's horse. The horse owner contended that the trial court erred in denying his motion for a new trial based on the ground that the verdict was against the great weight and preponderance of the evidence. The court affirmed the trial court's judgment in favor of the veterinarian in the malpractice action.
|Veterinary Surgeons Investigating Committee v. Lloyd||2002 WL 31928523, 134 A Crim R 441||
Appeal of agency determination of veterinarian malpractice for failure to detect ring worms in a cat. Long case with full discussion of process of administrative hearing and the standards by which to decide if an action is malpractice.
|Williams v. Neutercorp (Unpublished)||1995 Tex. App. LEXIS 833 (Tex Ct. App. Apr. 20, 1995).||
Appellant sought review of the order from the County Court dismissing appellant's lawsuit after it sustained the special exception filed by appellee company, appellee animal hospital, and appellee veterinarian in appellant's suit which alleged negligence and violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices-Consumer Protection Act, Tex. Bus. & Com. Code Ann. § 17.50. The special execption is that the Veterinary Licensing Act, Tex. Rev. Civ. Stat. Ann. art. 8890, 18C, expressly provided that the DTPA did not apply in veterinary malpractice cases.The court affirmed the lower court's order dismissing appellant's suit against appellees because the lower court did not abuse its discretion by dismissing appellant's pleadings with prejudice, after the lower court sustained the special exception regarding the Deceptive Trade Practices-Consumer Protection Act, and after appellant refused to amend her pleading.
|Willoughby v. Board of Veterinary Examiners||483 P.2d 498 (N.M. 1971)||
Donald Wayne Willoughby, D.V.M., successfully appealed the suspension of his license for 180 days at the district court level. In an appeal by the Board of Veterinary Examiners, the Supreme Court found the Board's findings of fact are supported by substantial evidence based on an examination of the entire record. The Court stated that the trial judge substituted his own judgment in reversing the decision of the Board, rather than basing his reversal upon any of the grounds set forth in the statute. While the Court affirmed the order of revocation, it held that there no language within the Uniform Licensing Act that gives the Board the power to place the appellee on probation after the period for which his license has been suspended.
|Zeid v. Pearce||953 S.W.2d 368 (Tex.App.-El Paso, 1997)||
Richard and Susan Zeid appeal from the trial court's order dismissing their lawsuit against Dr. William Pearce, d/b/a Coronado Animal Clinic, for veterinary malpractice after the dog suffered from allergic reactions resulting from alleged negligent vaccinations. The court observed that, in Texas, the recovery for the death of a dog is the dog's market value, if any, or some special or pecuniary value to the owner that may be ascertained by reference to the dog's usefulness or services. Consequently, the court found this longstanding Texas rule to be inconsistent with the Zeids' claim for pain and suffering and mental anguish. Because the Zeids did not plead for damages for the loss of their dog that are recoverable in Texas, the trial court did not err in sustaining Dr. Pearce's special exception and dismissing their cause of action.
|Zimmerman v. Robertson||854 P.2d 338 (Mont. 1993)||
Defendant-veterinarian was contracted to castrate plaintiff’s horse. Post-surgical care resulted in a fatal infection of the horse. The court found that, indeed, expert testimony is required in malpractice cases, as negligence cannot be inferred from the existence of a loss. The court disagreed with plaintiff that defendant’s own "admissions" in his testimony at trial provided sufficient evidence of deviation from the standard of care to withstand a directed verdict by defendant. As to plaintiff’s argument regarding a lack of informed consent, the court noted that a medical malpractice claim premised on a theory of lack of informed consent is a separate cause of action rather than an "element" in an otherwise specifically alleged claim of professional negligence.
|Zimmerman v. Robertson||854 P.2d 338 (Mont. 1993)||
Plaintiff horse owner sought review of a judgment by the District Court of Yellowstone County, Thirteenth Judicial District (Montana), which entered a directed verdict in favor of defendant veterinarian on the owner's claims of professional negligence. On appeal, the court affirmed the trial court's decision, holding that the owner was required to prove the veterinarian's negligence by expert testimony, and that he failed to do so. In addition, the court The court found that the "defendant's admissions" exception to the expert testimony requirement did not apply because the veterinarian did not admit that he deviated from the standard of care.