Milke v. Ratcliff Animal Hospital, Inc.

120 So. 3d 343 (2013)

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Milke v. Ratcliff Animal Hospital, Inc.

Louisiana Court of Appeal
120 So. 3d 343 (2013)

Facts

Judi Milke (plaintiff) took her six-month-old dog, Slade, to Ratcliff Animal Hospital (defendant) to be neutered. Dr. Pierce (defendant) was the veterinarian that administered Slade the anesthesia and performed the procedure. Milke returned shortly after the procedure concluded, and Dr. Pierce stepped out of the operating room to inform her that the procedure was a success. During that time, Slade remained intubated and a veterinary assistant was monitoring him. The assistant noticed that the dog’s breathing and pulse were shallow. Thus, the assistant moved Slade back into the operating room, attached his tube to oxygen, and began CPR. Another staff member interrupted Dr. Pierce’s conversation with Milke to inform him of these events. Dr. Milke returned, and after attempting life-saving measures, he pronounced Slade dead. Milke subsequently filed suit, alleging that Dr. Pierce and Ratcliff Animal Hospital negligently caused Slade’s death. Specifically, Milke contended that proper protocol mandated that Dr. Pierce remain in the room with the dog until the endotracheal tube was removed. The defendants moved for summary judgment, claiming that Milke could not prove that Dr. Pierce breached the standard of care applicable in veterinary-malpractice cases and that, even if a breach occurred, it did not cause Slade’s death. The trial court granted the motion, and Milke appealed. On appeal, Milke relied on a study showing that 99.95 percent of healthy dogs recover from the surgery Slade underwent, and as a result Dr. Pierce’s negligence may be inferred.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Moore, J.)

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