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.