Anoka Equine Veterinary v. Tully
In the case, Anoka Equine Veterinary Services, Ltd. v. Tully, Court File No: 27-CV-05-009346, the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Plaintiff dismissing Defendants' veterinary negligence claim and requiring Defendants to pay Plaintiff for its services rendered plus interest and litigation costs incurred.
Defendants, a married couple, brought their aged mare to a veterinarian for emergency colic treatment. Due to the mare's deteriorating condition, the veterinarian referred the Plaintiff's veterinary facility for continued treatment. After examining the mare, Plaintiff contacted Defendants to notify them that the mare's condition had not improved and with treatment options which consisted of surgery or treated the mare medically until the end. Plaintiff notified Defendants of the inherent risks of general anesthesia in addition to the heightened risks of death or serious injury the mare would encounter given her age and condition. Defendants declined to proceed with surgery.
The mare's condition worsened the following day, and Plaintiff advised Defendants that the only options now were to treat the colic surgically or to euthanize the mare. Plaintiff notified Defendants that the likelihood of a successful outcome of from the surgery and anesthesia had been significantly reduced due to the mare's deteriorated state from the day before. Defendants authorized Plaintiff to proceed with surgery.
Plaintiff's veterinarians performed a successful celiotomy on the mare. The mare had difficulty standing after the surgery and sustained a closed femur fracture while attempting to lay down. The Defendants were contacted immediately for permission to euthanize the mare, which Defendants granted.
As a result of the Defendants' refusal to pay for Plaintiff's services rendered and costs incurred while treating the mare, Plaintiff sued Defendants. Defendants then brought a counterclaim alleging veterinary negligence. Plaintiff brought a summary judgment motion against Defendants for its services rendered and costs incurred plus interest, indemnification for attorneys' fees and costs incurred in the litigation, and dismissal of the Defendants' counterclaim as Defendants had not produced any evidence supporting a prima facie case of veterinary malpractice including expert testimony delineating the applicable standard of care, departure from that standard, and resulting damages.
In response to Plaintiff's summary judgment motion, Defendants argued that applicable veterinary procedures for a horse's recovery following general anesthesia is "common knowledge" among "horse people" such that no expert testimony was required to survive summary judgment. Defendants submitted the affidavit of Ms. Tully, who is not a doctor of veterinary medicine, who based her opinion on the proper standard on her experience boarding and training horses and her "regular . . .use . . . of veterinarians for the care and treatment of horses. . ."
In replying to the Defendants' arguments, Plaintiff offered the expert testimony of two of its surgeons as well as from the Chief of Staff at Purdue University Veterinary Teaching Hospital's Large Animal Clinic setting forth the applicable standard of veterinary medical care, discussing the undisputed facts of the mare's colic treatment, surgery, and recovery in this particular case, and concluding that Plaintiff not only met but exceeded that standard of care under the circumstances. At the summary judgment hearing, the Court awarded judgment to Plaintiff against Defendants for its services rendered and dismissed the Defendants' claims of veterinary malpractice and negligence with prejudice.