Simpson et al v. Baronne Veterinary Clinic

The Honorable Kenneth M. Hoyt, district judge for the Southern District of Texas, rejected claims for lost profits brought by Jim Simpson, Ken Ridenour, and Mel Karr arising from injuries allegedly sustained by “Jess for th Memories” [sic], an AQHA race horse they co-owed.

Like many race horses, Jess received maintenance joint and suspensory injections. After receiving a couple of rounds of injections in his hind and fore limbs in 2009, Jess broke his maiden as a 3-year-old at Sam Houston Race Park.   Here is the story on Jess’s win.  About a month after Jess broke his maiden, Dr. Tom Hays at Elgin Veterinary Clinic observed problems in Jess’s stifles and could not rehabilitate him. Jess was no longer able to race. Judging from the pleadings in the case, Jess was gelded at some point after he won his race at Sam Houston.

Jess’s owners sued Louisiana-based Baronne Veterinary Clinic, Inc. They alleged that Dr. Ed Baronne was negligent and failed to meet the standard of care when he performed joint injections on Jess, allegedly resulting in “debilitating joint infections.” Baronne filed a motion for summary judgment in the case.

In his Memorandum Opinion and Order on Baronne’s motion, Judge Hoyt allowed the plaintiffs’ negligence claim to move forward, but dismissed the plaintiffs’ gross negligence and lost potential profits claims, stating,

Texas law does not allow an injured animal’s owner to recover the animal’s lost potential profits…Rather, a plaintiff’s recovery is limited to the difference in the animal’s market value immediately before and after any injury alleged to have been caused by the defendant.

* * *

The plaintiffs seek to recover speculative lost profits for a gelded race horse, and that horse’s potential profits are far too uncertain to be recoverableHorse racing is considered gambling for a reason."

[Emphasis added, citations omitted]. 

The case settled shortly after Judge Hoyt’s opinion was issued, resulting in its agreed dismissal on April 1, 2011. 

Case info: Simpson et al v Baronne Veterinary Clinic, Inc., No. 10-CV-03032, filed Dec. 21, 2009 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas.

Hat tip to Krysia Nelson at Equine Law & Business Letter for noticing this case first.

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