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Simmons v. Gary Farmer and Sussex Veterinary Hospital

Superior Court of Delaware

November 7, 2017

DANIEL SIMMONS AND DEBORAH SIMMONS, Plaintiffs
v.
GARY FARMER AND SUSSEX VETERINARY HOSPITAL, Defendants

          Date Submitted: August 23, 2017

         Upon Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. Denied.

          Timothy G. Willard, Esq., Fuqua, Willard, Stevens, & Schab, P.A., Attorney for Plaintiffs

          Maria J. Poehner, Esq., Law Offices of Jeffery H. Eiseman, Attorney for Defendants

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          STOKES, J.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         This matter is presently before the Court on the motion of the Defendants, Gary Farmer and Sussex Veterinary Hospital (collectively "Defendants"), for partial summary judgment. The Plaintiffs, Daniel and Deborah Simmons (collectively "Plaintiffs"), oppose the Motion. For the reasons stated below, Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment is DENIED.

         II. FACTS

         On February 9, 2016, Farmer performed a surgical procedure, on Plaintiffs' seven-year-old Beagle named Lacey. He was to remove the dog's anal glands, which had been causing her problems for several months. However, Plaintiffs allege that the surgery was performed negligently, causing additional medical problems for the dog as well as substantial medical costs for the Plaintiffs. Shortly after the surgery was performed, the stitches on the dog's wound opened and had to be re-stitched by Farmer. The same day as the re-stitching, the wound opened again and the dog was panting heavily and restless. Plaintiffs took the dog to Pets ER in Salisbury, Maryland where they learned that immediate surgery was necessary. The dog was also diagnosed as septic. The dog was taken to Chesapeake Veterinary Hospital in Annapolis, Maryland where four separate surgeries were performed to reconstruct her colon because it had been nicked during the initial surgery. She stayed at the Chesapeake Veterinary Hospital for 11 days. Thereafter, the dog suffered from fecal incontinence and recurrent infections. In June 2016[1], the dog's new veterinarian, Alicia Lovings, discovered that her left anal gland had not been removed and was possibly infected. The dog was returned to Chesapeake Veterinary Hospital where it was confirmed that the gland was still there, and removed.

         At the present time, the dog's condition is stable. However, Plaintiffs have had to adjust to her complications post-surgery, including continued incontinence. Plaintiffs have incurred the following expenses, beginning with the initial surgery:

1. Defendants' surgery and follow up: $1, 188.57
2. Pets ER: $615.25
3. Chesapeake Veterinary Hospital: $9, 099.18
4. Dr. Holly Schoen, veterinarian in Salisbury, Maryland: $258.04
5. Dr. Alicia Lovings, the dog's new veterinarian: $44.88

         III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         The Court may grant summary judgment if "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law."[2] The moving party bears the initial burden of showing no material issues of fact are present.[3] If the moving party properly supports their motion, the burden then shifts to the non-moving party to rebut the contention that no material issues of fact exist.[4] In considering a motion for summary judgment, the Court must review ...


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