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DEFENDANT’S Professional Malpractice – Veterinary – Alleged failure to timely diagnose and treat ankle tumor in dressage show horse – Claimed loss of value of horse.

Palm Beach County, FL

The corporate plaintiff alleged that the defendant veterinarian negligently failed to diagnose and treat an ankle fracture in the plaintiff’s seven-year-old dressage (a competitive equestrian sport) show horse. The defendants, who included the veterinarian and his professional association, argued that the corporate plaintiff did not own the horse and that the horse had the ankle tumor when it was purchased; so the plaintiff assumed the risk presented by the condition.

The plaintiff claimed that its competitive dressage show horse suffered a tumor in its ankle and that the tumor grew significantly during the first year that the animal was treated by the defendant veterinarian. The plaintiff claimed that, when the horse broke down, the defendant repeatedly treated it with injections and put it back on the show circuit instead of properly treating the tumor.

Had the tumor been appropriately removed, the plaintiff alleged that the horse could have continued as a show animal and would not have become lame and been forced to retire. The plaintiff contended that the value of the animal had declined from $________ to approximately $________ as a result of its ankle condition. The defense argued that the plaintiff assumed a risk of lameness when it bought the horse with the ankle tumor and that the defendant veterinarian met the required standard of care.The jury found that the plaintiff owned the horse in question. The jury also found no negligence on the part of the defendant which was a legal cause of damage to the plaintiff. The case settled post-verdict for an undisclosed sum.

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