Medical Malpractice Does not Apply to Vets in Washington

September 29, 2008

The case Sherman v. Kissinger was just published by the Court of Appeals today.  It represents a fairly good overview of a pet owner’s rights against a vet in Washington.  This case involved a dog which died after being left at a clinic for a urine sample.  A much more intrusive method of collecting the sample was taken than the one described to the pet owner, a method that led promptly to the dog’s death.

Suit was brought under several theories, including the medical malpractice statute, chapter 7.70 RCW, claiming lack of consent to the procedure.  The Court reversed the trial judge and held that the medical malpractice  statute could not be invoked against a vet.

The owners must treat a pet under Washington law like they would a television set that was taken in for repair.  Under the law a pet is just like any other personal property.  The informed consent statute therefore cannot apply to the treatment of pets.  (Claims that apply to appliance repair such as misrepresentation and negligence can apply to claims involving a pet taken to a vet.)

The reason that this sort of issue does not come before the Court of Appeals very ofter is that damages are only narrowly allowed.  The general rule is that the owner is entitled to the market vlaue of the dead pet.

Emotional distress and similar damages cannot typically be obtained for the loss of a pet.  There are no damages for loss of companionship with a pet.  Only if the cause of death was malicious injury can emotion distress damages be obtained.  This of course would not be available in a typical claim against a vet.

There is also something called “intrinsic value” of a pet that can be a measure of damages.  The idea here is to award the value of the pet to the owner, as opposed to the market value.  This is a very poorly developed concept in Washington and one of at least uncertain utility to an aggrieved pet owner.


McCain’s Failed Media Manipulation

September 29, 2008

The Washington Post described McCain’s attempts to manipulate the media into seeing him as a savior of the economy last week.  The effort failed but it is a relief to see the media reporting on efforts to manipulate reporting instead of the mindless dictation that we have grown accustomed to seeing.

With the vigilance shown by internet reporters it is harder to get away with easy verbal tricks.  McCain “suspended” his campaign so that he could go to Washington to take care of matters, saying that this is not the sort of thing that you can do by phone.  Today he said that he is handling the bailout by phone.  From the looks of things neither approach has worked for him.

McCain was apparently taking credit for achieving the bailout, at least until the vote failed.  The House Republicans were the group that he specifically targeted in his trip to Washington but they seem to be the ones who torpedoed that bill today.  He faulted Obama for being on the sidelines, when I am unable to discern the slightest positive impact of his theatrics.


The Storm is Part of Seattle’s Community

September 29, 2008

I thought I’d mention Seattle’s WNBA team, the Storm, which seems to have been embraced by the community. Seattle owes the team an expression of thanks and gratitude for their efforts.

I could not go to the last game in the L.A. series because I had a long standing commitment to attend the Mariners game. The Thursday game was a good baseball game with the Mariners coming out victors against the Angels, a rare feat this season or for that matter in recent seasons.

I was on the second level where they have areas with food and drink concessions, along with tables and lots of televisions. During the game one of the televisions was turned to the channel showing the Storm game and there was a cluster of people leaning forward at the tables anxiously watching the game. A small group of people stood behind them and vendors were craning their necks to get a view.

The viewers were mostly men but women were well represented as well. They cheered as the team came back then grew silernt as L.A. held off the Storm at the end of the game. The disappointment was obvious but the folks watching the games expressed appreciation for theteam and the effort at the end. There was no grousing about the coaches or players; everyone seemed to really like the team and to be proud of it.

This authentic warmth struck as rather unique these days when we tend to dismiss anything but complete success and are quick to find fault with players and coaches. I go to my share of games in different sports and do not often see the love of the sport and the appreciation of the athletes as I do among Storm fans.

The players have not been corrupted by staggering contracts and bring a refreshing sense of sportsmanship to their game; these days it seems almost innocent. I think to some degree the Storm fans are people who miss the innocence of sports, rooting for your team through good and bad times, players who truly are people like you’d like your children to become, people who love their sport and do not imagine that it somehow separates them from others.


McCain’s Plan to Deregulate Insurance

September 29, 2008

When McCain was saying that there was no problem with the financial industry, he really meant it. His blinders were so effective that he published this piece after the market went haywire this month. On the second page he actually recommends his insurance deregulation plan based on the successful deregulation of the banking industry. I hope that his published enthusiasms do not track his stock selection decisions.