Seattle Woman Files $60K Claim Over Dead Dog

March 15, 2011

The owner of a German shorthaired pointer, originally purchased for $200, has filed a claim with the city of Seattle for $60,000 after the dog was electrocuted on Thanksgiving when it stepped on a Queen Anne streetlight metal ground-cover plate.

In the 17-page claim, Adam Karp, a Bellingham attorney who specializes in animal law, said Lisa McKibbin, and her mother, Nancy Bostdorff, would settle for $30,000 under three conditions:

That City Light post contact-voltage safety tips on its Web site, take part in an annual contact-voltage safety conference and make contact-voltage scans annual rather than every four years.

Suzanne Hartman, spokeswoman for City Light, said, “Of course, we’ll take a look at the claim and certainly review it. We’ll then do the normal processing to determine the reasonableness.”

McKibbin referred all questions to her attorney.

In the claim, Karp said that since the 68-pound dog, Sammy, was purchased in 2004, the daughter and mother had spent over $10,000 on the dog, with the big-ticket items being $5,212 for “doggy day care,” $2,400 on vet bills over the six years of his life and $1,339 for emergency treatment and cremation after the dog was electrocuted.

In the claim, Karp said Sammy “did not have a fair market or replacement value,” but “a unique value.”

“My clients loved Sammy as if he were their child. … The avoidable and wholly unexpected death by electrocution of Sammy caused complex grief and emotional harm to both my clients,” said the claim.

Included in the claim were photos of Sammy at a beach on Vancouver Island and with his owners on vacation in the Canadian Rockies.

The claim included postings by McKibbin on the web about Sammy shortly after his death, including, “I can’t stop sobbing and aching … You were my sweetie, my little boy. … ”

In a telephone interview, Karp said McKibbin needs counseling she cannot afford because she does not have medical insurance.

The claim said McKibbin “will testify to complex grief, emotional and physical stress, haunting flashbacks replaying the witnessing of Sammy’s death, fear of herself also being killed by lethal voltage and losing him so tragically and unexpectedly.”

Since the Thanksgiving Day electrocution of the dog, City Light said it inspected more than 37,000 metal streetlight poles, ground-cover plates and associated facilities and found 56 instances with contact voltage of at least 30 volts that resulted in repairs being made.

Karp said if no settlement is reached within 60 days, the next step is a lawsuit.

He said that as an animal-law attorney, he handles numerous dog and cat cases, as well as the “occasional bird, ferret and even a wolf.”

Was this article valuable?

Here are more articles you may enjoy.