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DEFENDANT’S Veterinary Malpractice – Alleged negligent performance of surgery on horse – Death of show horse – Claimed wrongful dominion over horse’s remains.

Palm Beach County, FL

The plaintiff brought this action against an equine surgeon and his professional association alleging veterinarian malpractice. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant veterinarian negligently performed surgery to resolve the horse’s bowel obstruction and then negligently disposed of its remains. The defendant countered that the horse could not be saved and that its remains were abandoned by the plaintiff.

The plaintiff’s horse, “Falcon” suffered severe colic from an intestinal obstruction. Surgery was performed by the defendant to relieve the obstruction, but the horse died within 36 hours of being brought to the clinic.

The plaintiff claimed that the equine surgery was not properly performed resulting in the animal’s death. The plaintiff also alleged that the defendant veterinarian wrongfully conducted a necropsy and disposed of the horse’s body without the plaintiff’s permission. The plaintiff testified that she wanted to have the horse cremated or buried in a private burial plot.

The plaintiff claimed that the horse was a valuable show horse, competed in Dressage competitions and was valuable as a stud. The plaintiff contended that the animal was worth well over $________.

The defendant argued that the surgery was properly performed, but the damage to the horse’s intestine was too great for the horse to survive. The defendant contended that he asked the plaintiff at midnight what she wanted to do with the horse’s body. When the plaintiff had not responded by 3:00 p.m. the next day, the defense contended that disposal of the horse’s body was necessary for sanitary reasons.Over defense objections, the jury was instructed that it could consider the horse as an antique or family heirloom with sentimental value beyond the mere value of a chattel.The jury found no professional negligence and no conversion of the horse’s

remains and a defense verdict was entered. Both defendants filed proposals for settlement in the amount of $________ each.

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