Jury Finds Against Vets In Negligence Case

Practicing racetrack veterinarians throughout North America felt the chill of a $600,000 judgment brought on March 23 against two of their colleagues in a Southern Calif. case that centered around an antibiotic injection give

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Practicing racetrack veterinarians throughout North America felt the chill of a $600,000 judgment brought on March 23 against two of their colleagues in a Southern Calif. case that centered around an antibiotic injection given to the 1993 Californian Stakes (gr. I) winner Latin American, a son of Riverman now based at Walmac Farm in Ky. and serving dual hemisphere stud duty in Brazil.


A 12-member jury found in favor of owners Mike Jarvis, Warren Williamson, and Robert Marshall, also the trainer, in their suit against Dr. Hector Prida and his associate, Dr. Helmuth Von Bluecher. The plaintiffs contended that Latin American’s value plummeted after complications arose following an intravenous neck injection–administered by Prida shortly after the Californian–that allegedly caused a phlebitis. The swelling, according to plaintiffs testimony, in turn compromised Latin American’s subsequent training and performance. After the Californian, Latin American raced twice more and ran poorly both times. A fractured cannon bone ended his career later that summer.


The defense maintained that the phlebitis did not occur until several weeks after the antibiotic injection, that several other veterinarians attended Latin American at one time or another during the period in question, and that he was administered more than one injection into the vein that suffered the phlebitis. “We were pretty flabbergasted the jury went the way it did,” said Von Bluecher, a vet for 28 years. Prida has practiced for 33 years. “We thought the facts were laid out pretty clearly.”


Steve R. Schwartz, representing the veterinarians, said an appeal of the judgment will be filed. “The decision, as far as we can tell, is totally inconsistent with and unsupported by the evidence,” said Schwartz. “All the medical evidence in the case–including their own veterinarian–stated that they could not determine with a reasonable medical certainty how the phlebitis was caused, and that in any event it had absolutely no connection with the fractured leg

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