Price v. Brown

545 Pa. 216, 680 A.2d 1149 (1996)

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Price v. Brown

Pennsylvania Supreme Court
545 Pa. 216, 680 A.2d 1149 (1996)

Facts

On August 30, 1991, Tracy Price (plaintiff) left her dog with her veterinarian, Nancy O. Brown (defendant) to perform a surgical procedure to fix the dog’s prolapsed urethra. The following evening, Price visited the dog at the animal hospital. Price became concerned about the dog’s well-being because the dog was excessively panting and seemed groggy. Upon Price’s request, an employee of Brown’s assured her that the dog would receive 24-hour monitoring. However, the dog was monitored only until midnight. At some point during the morning hours of September 1, the dog passed. Price sued Brown, claiming that Brown was liable for the dog’s death on a bailment theory. Price alleged that she, as the bailee, had entrusted Brown, as the bailor, with the dog to perform the surgery and return the dog back to her in good health. Price argued that Brown had breached the bailor-bailee agreement by not returning the dog back to her in good health. Brown objected to the complaint. The trial court concluded that a veterinarian may not be liable for the death or injury of an animal in her care based on a breach of a bailment agreement. The court dismissed the case. The matter was appealed. The superior court found that Price could file a cause of action against Brown based on a bailment theory and reversed the trial court. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court granted allocatur to consider the case.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Zappala, J.)

Dissent (Castille, J.)

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