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Medical malpractice suit for “pet death” ends in mistrial

For some Florida residents, the family pet is an actual member of the family. In a somewhat unique case, a Bay Area sued a vet clinic for medical malpractice when her beloved dog died while under the clinic’s care. The jury deliberated for almost ten hours after hearing the case but came away deadlocked, resulting in a mistrial.

The woman was suing for damages for pain and suffering. The medical malpractice case is important in that its final outcome may play a part in how the Florida legal system will view future cases regarding a pet’s death. Under Florida law, pets are considered property. That means a pet owner is entitled to fair value of the pet, but not for damages such as pain and suffering.

The attorney representing the woman says they plan to move ahead and retry the case. “We knew it was going to be an uphill fight, but this is encouraging to us and we hope that the next time we go to trial on this case – we’re going to win,” he said.

The vet clinic that the woman claims was responsible for the wrongful death of her golden retriever is under new management now. The medical malpractice lawsuit also named three veterinarians who worked at the facility when the death occurred back in 2007. The woman claims that the clinic and vets were negligent in their care for the animal while it was at the clinic awaiting surgery on its tail.

The woman is seeking an estimated $15,000 dollars in damages. There was a similar case in Texas, where a court ruled in favor of a pet owner whose dog was accidentally euthanized.

Source: FOX 13 News, “Jury: No decision in dog trial,” Kristin Wright, Dec. 21, 2011

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