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Queens Couple Claims Forest Hills Veterinary Clinic Killed Their Cat, File $290K Lawsuit

Camry (Photo: Matthew Ritter)

Jan. 30, 2019 By Meghan Sackman

A Woodside couple has filed a lawsuit against a Forest Hills veterinary clinic for $290,000 alleging that it was responsible for their cat’s death.

Matthew and Louise Ritter claim that BluePearl Vet Specialists, located at 107-28 71st Rd, killed their 17-year-old cat, Camry, by prescribing more than twice the dose of medication required to treat their cat’s kidney problems.

The couple, who have filed suit against BluePearl and four of its veterinarians, claim the clinic gave their 6-pound kitty the amount of medicine needed for a 6-kilogram feline –about 13 pounds—causing their long-haired tortoiseshell cat to suffer.

The day after the treatment was administered, Ritter said he went to visit Camry and found her face down in her litter box, unresponsive and quivering. After calling a veterinarian for help, Camry was diagnosed with heart failure—which Ritter said was due to the excessive medication.

He told the Forest Hills Post that the veterinarians were indifferent about her condition and did not offer an apology.

“They did an emergency procedure to remove excess fluids from her heart, which they had flooded with excess medication, and put her in an oxygen cage for the next week,” Ritter said.

The cat stabilized and the Ritters took Camry home. She still required further treatment and died weeks later.

The couple now seek $290,000–representing the $15,262 it cost to treat Camry from March 20 until she died; $10,000 for the Ritters’ lost time and wages; $10,000 for the pain suffered by the cat; $5,000 for the value of Camry; and $250,000 in punitive damages.

“It’s a mystery to me how this happened,” Matthew Ritter, a drumming instructor, said in an interview. “How did an entire team of trained animal specialists not realize she wasn’t a 13-pound cat? If you care about what you’re doing, you double check your measurements.”

Ritter recruited Richard Bruce Rosenthal, a lawyer based in Kew Gardens known as “The Dog Lawyer,” and filed suit in Manhattan Supreme Court last week.

“There was nothing accidental about it,” Rosenthal said, putting it down to negligence. “The same person that weighed out and administered the medication had the cat right in front of him and could see this wasn’t a 13-pound cat.”

Furthermore, “At no point did [BluePearl] even apologize to my client for what happened,” Rosenthal said. “If they did, it probably wouldn’t have got to this.”

A representative of BluePearl provided a statement on the case. “As an organization of pet lovers, we care deeply about every pet we treat. While we have not been served with this complaint, we are still in communication with the Ritter family and hope to address their concerns.”

The concept of seeking monetary damages for an animal’s suffering is rare. However, Rosenthal said it’s appropriate.

“Defendants were aware that Camry was a conscious, loving and sentient being who experienced pain, physical suffering and emotional joy and emotional suffering in a manner similar to that of human,” the suit says.

BluePearl Vet Specialist at 107-28 71st Rd (Google)

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8 Comments

Joan Santo

Blue Pearl demanded my credit card, charged me for an “emergency visit” even though I had an appointment and ran up a $6,000 bill without ever informing me of what was being done for my cat Patches. He survived an operation but they never told me what it was for. Avoid this place if you can. It’s all about the money.

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Mihaela

To me, pets and parents don’t age!! Hope they win as vets take advantage of older pets.. I have my bad experience with LI cat hospital!!

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QueensRight

Saw a story about this case in the NY Post a few days ago with more details. The writer on this website failed to mention that Blue Pearl demanded the couple still pay thousands for the botched treatment. In the NY Post, that seemed to be what started the whole conflict. Very bad form, Blue Pearl! Inexcusable.

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Grumpy

A drumming instructor wants $250K in punitive damages for a dead 17-year-old cat? Sounds like someone’s drumming for an early retirement! I hope the judge throws out that out the minute he reads it on his docket.

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F jones

17 is a very old cat ..I think it’s unfair to sue for more than the money spent on treatment…we all sue way too much ..your cat was not going to live much longer ..it most likely died just because it had reached the limit of cat life…

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Justine Marie Vickers

This is absolutely heartbreaking. My sincere and deepest condolences to Matthew and Louise Ritter on the loss if their beloved Camry. While I know that no amount of money could ever compensate for the loss of s loved one, it is high time that a case such as this is brought before the Court and covered by the press, in order to highlight the fact that all animals are living, sentient beings who have the right to love, good health and happiness.

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Camry's Owner

Thanks to those of you who have expressed your sympathy here. I won’t be posting regularly, but I just wanted to clarify a couple of points that were unclear in the article.

Camry did indeed have white in her fur, so it seems that perhaps she was technically calico. Thanks to those who pointed that out. The various vets who saw her over the years tended to list her as “dilute tortie.” Either way, her coloring was quite beautiful.

Camry was approximately 6 pounds. She had not wasted away due to illness. She was, and always had been, a very tiny cat…much tinier than she may appear in her photo.

The tragic medical treatment she received was fluid administered with IV. The dosage was calculated as a direct multiple of her weight. Unfortunately, this calculation was done based on 6 kilograms (approximately 13 pounds) instead of her true weight of 6 pounds. This massively excessive dosage was fed directly into her veins for several hours. All of this was admitted by the veterinarians at BluePearl.

Once she stabilized just enough to be removed from the oxygen cage at BluePearl, we quickly took her out of that hospital and brought her to 3 other vets. They all confirmed that the massive flood of fluids to her little heart had doomed her. Sure enough, she passed away shortly thereafter.

At 17 years old, Camry was definitely a senior cat. That’s what makes this entire story all the more upsetting. After living for 17 years, Camry had every right to peacefully live out whatever time she had remaining. Up until the BluePearl incident, she was still very playful and loved her life.

A simple online search will reveal that this type of occurrence has become all too common at BluePearl . We are intentionally making a large legal statement here to draw attention to the situation at BluePearl and hopefully prevent any future tragedies like this.

Thank you again to all who have shared your support.

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