Pay your pet’s vet bills

Today I was reading recently published opinions by the Georgia Court of Appeals. I read Gomez v. Innocenta case involving a dispute over a veterinarian’s bills for medical services and boarding costs of a dog. After nonpayment of the bills, the vet kept the dog in his possession. The opinion revolved around Georgia’s veterinarian lien statute, O.C.G.A. Section 44-14-490.

I have dealt, quite extensively, with the mechanic and materialmen lien statute but had not realized veterinarians had similar rights after treating or boarding an animal or pet. The statute allows the vet to retain possession of the animal until the bill is paid. If the bill remains unpaid, Section 44-14-490 allows the vet to sell or give away the animal, or euthanize the animal if a humane society is not within a fifty mile radius.

South Carolina has a similar statute found at Section 40-69-285 of the South Carolina Code. South Carolina gives the vet the right to retain the animal until the bill is paid and the right to sell the animal if the bill is not paid within ten days of notice.

It appears that some other states do not give veterinarians similar rights in the animals they treat and board. What do you think?

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Grocery Store Injury

This case comes to us from the files of “just because you are injured doesn’t mean you have a good lawsuit”. In Ingles Markets, Inc. v. Carroll (a Georgia Court of Appeals decision found here), the plaintiff was shopping for groceries when a 11 year old boy ran into her and caused her to suffer injuries.

The plaintiff alleged that the store failed to monitor its customers, in this case children, closely enough to prevent injuries like this from occurring. Ingles regularly conducted sweeps to ensure no children were running around and causing potential hazards. Such a sweep occurred only 30 minutes prior to the injury suffered by the plaintiff.

In reaching its conclusion, the Court observed: “…based on her own testimony – that when she initially saw the child out of the corner of her eye, he was not running, but ‘walking fast’ – the child could only have been running a very short time before he ran into her. Thus, only a constant patrol – the type of procedure we have specifically declined to impose on proprietors under normal circumstances – could have possibly prevented her injury here.”

Readers should note that this might be a case of negligent parenting. The first footnote indicates that the boy and his parents were named in the complaint but failed to answer the complaint and defaulted.

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