Imagine being unable to afford a surgery for your dog and getting blackmailed for it by the vet – one California woman fought back when she found herself in that situation.
As outrageous as it sounds, Karen Kelly was really blackmailed by a 24-hour veterinary facility called Advanced Critical Care and Internal Medicine Inc. When Karen’s dog was injured following a car accident, the emergency vet’s office told her that a risky surgical procedure was required immediately. At the time, Karen explained that she did not have the $10,000 needed for a procedure that did not even guarantee her dog would even survive.
Karen called several friends, but was unable to raise $10,000. She told the vets she wanted to bring her dog home and try seeing her regular vet the next day, but the emergency facility refused saying she could either put her dog to sleep, pay for the $10,000 surgery, or pay an additional $1,500 to keep the dog in critical care overnight. The vets told Karen they would report her for animal cruelty if she took her dog home instead of complying with one of these “options”.
Although licensees of the Veterinary Medical Board in California are obligated to report animal cruelty, it seems Kelly’s actions did not fit the legal definition of animal cruelty under California law. Considering that the vets were in no way legally authorized to prevent Karen taking her injured pet to another medical facility and that she capitulated to their demands under severe emotional duress, it is no surprise that the veterinary office is about to get slapped with a $1 million lawsuit for extortion.
One interesting aspect of the lawsuit is that it will assert a claim of civil extortion under California common law rather than charge the clinic with criminal extortion under California statutory law. Under the California case law definition of extortion, Kelly will have to provide proof that the veterinary office’s actions caused her emotional or physical harm.
The distinctions between criminal and civil law are especially interesting for our attorneys – The Kyle Law Firm is the rare law practice that is highly experienced in both personal injury and criminal defense cases. Whatever your situation, our highly proficient attorneys can thoroughly explain your options to you and fight to protect your rights. Contact us online for a completely free consultation with one of our lawyers today.