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Quigley v McClellan

Case No. D060776 (CA Dist. 4 Ct. App., Div. 1, Mar. 28, 2013)

Defendants and appellants Paul McClellan and San Dieguito Equine Group (together Dr. McClellan) are doctors of veterinary medicine. Dr. McClellan was retained by plaintiff and respondent Karen Quigley to perform prepurchase examinations on two performance horses named Syrus and Poncho. Dr. McClellan performed the prepurchase examinations and concluded that both horses were suitable for their intended uses as competition hunter jumper horses. Based on this information, Quigley purchased Syrus and Poncho. Sometime after the purchase, the horses began to manifest physical problems that interfered with their ability to compete. Quigley then brought this lawsuit for veterinarian malpractice against Dr. McClellan, arguing that he negligently performed the prepurchase examinations of both horses.

Dr. McClellan's motion for nonsuit was denied, as were his postjudgment motions for judgment notwithstanding the verdict and new trial. A jury returned a special verdict finding that Dr. McClellan was negligent in performing the prepurchase examination of Poncho, but not negligent in his examination of Syrus. The trial court entered judgment on the verdict awarding Quigley $46,000 in damages. Dr. McClellan now appeals the judgment and the order denying his motions for judgment notwithstanding the verdict and nonsuit. He asks that we order judgment be entered in his favor, since there was no substantial evidence of an applicable standard of care, or that he failed to adhere to that standard in performing the prepurchase examination of Poncho. We conclude there was no evidence of an applicable standard of care, and the judgment therefore must be reversed.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND



1. Poncho's Medical History



Poncho is a performance horse who competes in hunter jumper competitions. In January 2006, he began to manifest physical signs of a left hind lameness that was interfering with his ability to perform in competition. He was then taken to Dr. McClellan to be evaluated for the cause of his lameness. Dr. McClellan performed a bone scan, radiographs, and an x-ray to pinpoint the source of Poncho's lameness. The test results showed that Poncho was suffering from a condition in the cervical facets (vertebrae) of his neck. Dr. McClellan treated Poncho's condition by administering injections directly into Poncho's neck. This treatment alleviated Poncho's lameness and performance issues.
 

 

Judge(s): Richard D. Huffman
Jurisdiction: California Court of Appeals, Fourth District
Related Categories: Expert Witness , Torts
 
Trial Court Judge(s)
Timothy Casserly

 
Court of Appeals Judge(s)
Richard Huffman
Alex McDonald
Gilbert Nares

 
Appellant Lawyer(s) Appellant Law Firm(s)
Lisa Brown Wallace Brown & Schwartz
George Wallace Wallace Brown & Schwartz

 
Appellee Lawyer(s) Appellee Law Firm(s)
Robert Newman Law Office of Robert Newman

 

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Click the maroon box above for a formatted PDF of the decision.
services (1994) 22 cal.app.4th 1627, 1632-1633.) since the judgment in this case disclosing poncho's medical history would have been to have a discussion with both mary gatti and candise pipkin (together the trainers), encouraged her to look into in october 2009, quigley filed a complaint against dr. mcclellan and san 2. the lease period dr. heidmann also testified that some significant abnormalities in poncho's competition. in january of 2009, poncho started to exhibit lameness issues in his front avoid problems is to talk to everybody and have them all together in a room." although, information to quigley because dr. mcclellan and her trainers never told her about after quigley presented her case-in-chief, dr. mcclellan moved for nonsuit on the his motions for nonsuit, new trial, and judgment notwithstanding the verdict. the court: 2 of cervical facet injections, meaning neck injections, is very low, and i would have a hard for judgment notwithstanding the verdict and new trial. a jury returned a special verdict 9 "habit of starting out stiff and warming out of it," and that he had looked at the horse solid value, supporting the challenged findings of the trier of fact. (ibid.) while injections directly into poncho's neck. this treatment alleviated poncho's lameness and intentional and negligent misrepresentation, fraud, and breach of fiduciary duty. we note once again that the standard of care in a veterinarian malpractice case and care ordinarily possessed and exercised by members of the medical profession under was poncho's current treating veterinarian. on september 12, 2008, dr. mcclellan specifically, she was concerned about the fact that poncho's medical history indicated of the exam. there's notes from january 24th, 2006, ultrasound and x-rays of the neck reversed. the determination as to whether on the entire record, there is substantial evidence after leasing poncho for approximately two months, quigley decided she wanted medical testing. the prepurchase examination yielded some abnormalities. specifically, further testified that "there should have been discussion of these findings" because stated "per discussion with [gatti], a summary of the treatment history is outlined substantial evidence of an applicable standard of care, or that he failed to adhere to that 3 quigley's complaint alleged causes of action for veterinarian malpractice, information during the prepurchase examination, she would have never bought the horse. plaintiff and respondent, june of 2008, and that the horse had "laid up" for a six month period. this was all new (super. ct. no. 37-2009-00061344- standard of care. "[t]he fact that another physician or surgeon might have elected to treat examination report. at the bottom of the report, dr. mcclellan included a note that negligence. specifically, he asserts that there is no substantial evidence in the record to must be reversed. quigley and the trainers. however, this testimony, by itself, does not establish the mcclellan administered injections into the cervical facets of poncho's neck to treat his conclusions that he had drawn from the prepurchase examination of poncho. further, he while these injections alleviated poncho's lameness, he was unable to immediately return at under similar circumstances in the exercise of reasonable care." (lawless v. calaway that poncho was available for sale in august of 2008. at the time, quigley's trainers, knowledge and care ordinarily possessed and exercised by members of the medical court denied the motions. dr. mcclellan timely appealed the judgment and the denial of me, issues of interest in this exam: bad neck, arthritis and bad stifle arthritis were both however, based on the special verdict form provided to the jury it seems the case only heidmann's testimony established any relevant recognized standard of care. since we there . . . and i don't see any mention of that on the prepurchase." (italics added.) he for publication the information regarding poncho because "there are a lot of -- a lot of different 7 after weighing the evidence, the jury returned a special verdict finding that dr. substantial proof of the essentials the law requires in the particular case. (estate of teed once again, and was pulled from his training. poncho can no longer be ridden as a by plaintiff and respondent karen quigley to perform prepurchase examinations on two horse who was "going to require some maintenance." he then "went over [poncho's testimony of her expert witness, veterinarian peter heidmann. dr. heidmann was performance horses named syrus and poncho. dr. mcclellan performed the prepurchase timothy m. casserly, judge. reversed. nonsuit. he asks that we order judgment be entered in his favor, since there was no d060776 (together dr. mcclellan) are doctors of veterinary medicine. dr. mcclellan was retained factual background1 buyer." (italics added.) for veterinarian malpractice against dr. mcclellan, arguing that he negligently performed can be very difficult to manage, especially the neck arthritis that had required multiple mcclellan wanted to make sure that they wanted to purchase poncho because he was a dr. mcclellan's motion for nonsuit was denied, as were his postjudgment motions of fact's resolution of disputed facts is challenged on the ground that there is no comprehensively, every one of those findings. i want to empower my clients to make the essentially unchanged from over the couple years" that he had known the horse. based cervical facet injections that he administered to poncho between 2006 and 2008. a copy cu-mm-nc) mcclellan to be evaluated for the cause of his lameness. dr. mcclellan performed a the trainers could follow up on poncho's treatments with their regular veterinarian, if they 8 standards of review mcclellan had been negligent in performing the prepurchase examination of poncho. 2 lameness is a term used to refer to a number of conditions where the horse fails to on his findings and his past knowledge of the horse, dr. mcclellan concluded that defendant and appellant. to poncho's prepurchase examination. he responded: "there's several issues, again, to for judgment notwithstanding the verdict and new trial. after hearing oral argument, the "they're obviously technical and interpretation is -- is open to question, so there needs to the attorneys of record are: in regards to the prepurchase examination of poncho, dr. heidmann testified that (kuhn v. department of general services, supra, 22 cal.app.4th 1627, 1633.) rather, it awarded costs on appeal. d060776 prepurchase examination performed on poncho to make sure he was healthy and sound 15 important to the horse. as a jumper, they have to arch their neck to get up and over the drew from the prepurchase examination, and he thought that "the best approach" in poncho is a performance horse who competes in hunter jumper competitions. in of this prepurchase report was sent to quigley and the trainers. dr. mcclellan noted that poncho had "low heels on both of his forefeet" and he had a performance issues. (vertebrae) of his neck. dr. mcclellan treated poncho's condition by administering informed dr. ouellette that poncho had a long history of medical issues and that he had a resulted in favor of quigley only in regards to the horse poncho, we will constrain our adequately and certainly not documented adequately." dr. heidmann further explained: the prepurchase examination], so to me -- not just indentifying the problems but both ultrasound and x-rays, which those two modalities really complement each other in he reviewed the prepurchase examination and the horse's medical history report. dr. purchasing poncho because he would "be good for [her] riding" and help make the 1. poncho's medical history i on appeal, dr. mcclellan contends that the judgment should be reversed because disposition interfering with his ability to perform in competition. he was then taken to dr. examination of poncho. the court then entered judgment on the verdict awarding he further testified that this process is "not always possible" and it is not "essential." dr. judgment and the order denying his motions for judgment notwithstanding the verdict and travel in a regular and sound manner on all four feet. discussion law office of robert newman and robert c. newman for plaintiff and poncho was then referred to dr. mcclellan, and a bone scan was administered. during the leasing period, the trainers contacted dr. mcclellan and asked him if in march of 2010, quigley received a copy of poncho's prior medical history from asked whether dr. mcclellan fell below the standard of care in reaching the conclusion paul mcclellan et al., prepurchase examination of poncho, or the subsequent disclosure of the horse's medical to his competition training. a year later, poncho began to manifest lameness problems standard of care november 23, 2008. shortly thereafter, quigley began to ride and train poncho for support either (1) the existence of an applicable standard of care, or (2) that he failed to potential relevance, of those problems to the client, to the potential most informed possible decision. so when details are excluded, it compromises their establish what that degree of skill, knowledge and care is, there must be expert testimony of care " 'is a matter peculiarly within the knowledge of experts; it presents the basic mcclellan then performed an x-ray on the elbow to determine the cause of the "hot spot." which is evidence of ponderable legal significance that is reasonable, credible and of 4 poncho, but not negligent in his examination of syrus. the trial court entered judgment "[answer]: a lot depends on the kind of horse. the three critical poncho's medical history, and the information contained in it concerned her. asked them to schedule a prepurchase examination with dr. mcclellan because of his examinations? mcclellan and san dieguito equine group were negligent in performing the prepurchase 1426.) defendants and appellants paul mcclellan and san dieguito equine group the x-ray revealed that poncho had a large bone cyst in his elbow joint. to treat explaining how the average veterinarian of ordinary skill and knowledge from the cal.app.3d 870, 873-874.) this standard, however, does not require us to blindly seize there was no substantial evidence in the record from which the jury could have found [veterinarian] exercise in diagnosis and treatment that reasonable degree of skill, quigley, an owner and rider of competition hunter jumper horses, was informed substantial evidence to sustain it, the power of the appellate court begins and ends with evidence. (dimartino v. city of orinda (2000) 80 cal.app.4th 329, 336.) so, after profession under similar circumstances. [citations.]' " (williamson, supra, 75 13 terms of getting a full picture of what's going on, and they describe significant arthritis poncho would be suitable to use as a competition hunter jumper horse. after dr. mcclellan finished the prepurchase examination, he called quigley and filed 3/12/13; pub. order 3/28/13 (see end of opn.) issue in a malpractice action and can only be proved by their testimony [citations] . . . .' " (1952) 112 cal.app.2d 638, 644.) dieguito equine group. as relevant to this appeal, she alleged a cause of action for 5. quigley receives poncho's medical history bone scan, radiographs, and an x-ray to pinpoint the source of poncho's lameness. the and reason emanating from the evidence and not mere speculation or conjecture. division one treated the facts of this case differently than dr. mcclellan, it cannot be said that dr. enough to compete as a hunter jumper horse. quigley then contacted the trainers and compels us to determine whether a reasonable trier of fact could have found for the discussing the problems in detail in a way that a client can understand it is the critical substantial evidence may inevitably consist of inferences, they must be the result of logic administered to poncho, and the dates he provided those treatments. this included the abnormalities present in [poncho] . . . . and i don't see many of those abnormalities time or two, but multiple times is a very big concern." (italics added.) he was then directly to the buyer or the buyer's trainers. he then answered: "[t]he easiest way to (roddenberry v. roddenberry (1996) 44 cal.app.4th 634, 651.) it must actually be that the horse had been lame multiple times through the time frame of january of 2006 to mcclellan found that poncho was suffering from "two kissing spines" and "a small spur legs. he was then taken to veterinarian sylvia ouellette for an evaluation. quigley requires the veterinarian to exercise the same " 'reasonable degree of skill, knowledge, 11 conclude that there was no evidence establishing the standard of care, then there was no he could release poncho's medical history. the trainers were aware that dr. mcclellan questioned as to the standard of care as follows: karen quigley, dr. mcclellan also called gatti to discuss poncho's medical history. dr. left a voicemail on her cell phone. dr. mcclellan explained all the findings and problems that interfered with their ability to compete. quigley then brought this lawsuit here, dr. heidmann never testified that dr. mcclellan's performance of the cu-mm-nc) poncho be subjected to a bone scan. cal.app.4th at p. 1424.) on the verdict awarding quigley $46,000 in damages. dr. mcclellan now appeals the quigley $46,000 in damages. after the entry of judgment, dr. mcclellan filed motions mcclellan to write down the dates of the treatments he had given to poncho. that way, a month later, poncho's lameness issues returned and he was pulled from his a. expert testimony: standard of care the court denied the motion. mcdonald, j. the matter proceeded to trial. substantial evidence to support the jury's verdict of negligence. therefore, the judgment improve. dr. ouellette administered the neck injections, but also recommended that 6 into detail about what tests and treatments had been done on poncho. defendants and appellants. explicitly noted that he had administered cervical facet injections to poncho in the past. spur in his left hind stifle joint, a kissing spine, and cervical pain. she further explained exercised by other veterinarians in the community, and, therefore, the judgment must be history with poncho. the trainers scheduled the appointment. relevant community would have treated the case under similar circumstances. quigley sought to establish the standard of care and its breach through the did not send a copy of poncho's complete medical history to the trainers. time poncho exhibited lameness he was taken to dr. mcclellan for treatment. dr. expert testimony establishing the appropriate standard of care in the relevant community. competition hunter jumper horses. based on this information, quigley purchased syrus heidmann then explained that dr. mcclellan fell below the standard of care in disclosing similar circumstances.' " (williamson, supra¸ 75 cal.app.4th at p. 1424.) in order to identified as well as some abnormalities further back in the spine. any of those issues copies to: all parties reversed. adhere to that standard in performing the prepurchase examination of poncho. we karen quigley, respondent. division one true all evidence tending to support the judgment. (kuhn v. department of general that show pretty significant arthritis, and those were read by a board certified radiologist, b. analysis: dr. heidmann did not testify to an applicable standard of care reviewing the whole record, we must determine whether there exists substantial evidence on [his] left stifle." however, dr. mcclellan opined that poncho's "way of moving was 10 lameness issues. . . . [¶] . . . documenting them, and then explaining the relevance, v. standard of care applied to veterinarians in prepurchase respondent based on the entire record. (ibid.) this is so because substantial is not that poncho was suitable for his intended use. dr. heidmann answered: "again, the then asked whether the standard of care requires that this information be explained test results showed that poncho was suffering from a condition in the cervical facets conditions with injections into the cervical facets of his neck. quigley and gatti asked defendant and appellant. wallace, brown & schwartz, george m. wallace and lisa j. brown for we concur: further explained that he had concluded that poncho's "neck was a significant part of his 5 appears that dr. heidmann simply disagreed with the conclusions that dr. mcclellan poncho's bone cyst, dr. ouellette administered injections directly into poncho's elbow. however, he explained that poncho was "sound" on the day of examination and that he the opinion filed march 12, 2013, is ordered certified for publication. be some discussion of what the potential significance of these are." dr. heidmann was poncho's past medical issues before she purchased the horse. if she was provided this court of appeal, fourth appellate district court of appeal, fourth appellate district procedural background during that time, however, poncho would occasionally show lameness in his legs. each no evidence of an applicable standard of care, and the judgment therefore must be below." below the note, dr. mcclellan wrote a brief outline of the treatments he had competition training. poncho remained "laid up" from his training for the next six 12 her local veterinarian, dr. greenman. this was the first time that quigley had seen believed the horse was suitable for his intended use. nares, j. medical] history detail by detail." at the conclusion of the discussion, gatti asked dr. 1 we view the evidence in the light most favorable to the judgment and accept as the case differently or use methods other than those employed by [the] defendant does not "[question]: from your general training and experience is there a ground that quigley's expert witness failed to testify to an applicable standard of care. finding that dr. mcclellan was negligent in performing the prepurchase examination of and poncho. sometime after the purchase, the horses began to manifest physical plaintiff and respondent, (super. ct. no. 37-2009-00061344- ii "[question]: and can you tell us that standard? v. (williamson v. prida (1999) 75 cal.app.4th 1417, 1424-1425 (williamson).) " 'standard heidmann was then asked how dr. mcclellan fell below the standard of care in regards 4. quigley purchases poncho huffman, acting p. j. injections are going to work less well in the future, and that's obviously an area that's 14 this case is governed by the substantial evidence standard of review. when a trier ability to make a good, informed decision." time -- i could not call him suitable for his intended use." jump, so arthritis in that area can be excruciating for the horse. i wouldn't worry about a months. poncho continued to compete as a hunter jumper horse for the next two years. state of california of itself establish negligence." (ibid.; see williamson, supra, 75 cal.app.4th at pp. 1425- likelihood of the horse remaining suitable for its intended use, because of the long history is because " '[t]he standard of care in a [veterinarian] malpractice case requires the paul mcclellan et al., competition schedule easier for her other horse. instead of outright purchase of the horse, responded to the trainers' inquiry in an email. his email explained that the horse had a based on dr. mcclellan's representations, quigley purchased poncho on competition hunter jumper horse because of the limitations caused by his bone cyst. contradicted or uncontradicted that supports the finding. (bowers v. bernards (1984) 150 filed 3/28/13 "[answer]: there is. proceeded to trial on the claim of veterinarian malpractice. examinations and concluded that both horses were suitable for their intended uses as dr. mcclellan recorded all his findings and conclusions in a written prepurchase recitation of the facts only to the evidence pertaining to that horse. decided to purchase the horse. dr. mcclellan recorded the dates of the treatments, but history, "was not consistent with what other doctors in the community would have arrived (1944) 24 cal.2d 81, 87, italics added.) from what can be ascertained from the record, it slight "left hind lameness." further, after examining poncho's radiographs, dr. of the most significant, again, relating to [poncho's] neck is a known problem at the time without explaining how an average veterinarian of ordinary skill would have quigley first leased poncho for a trial period. to purchase the horse. before finalizing the purchase, however, she wanted to have a documented. so they may have been discussed. it doesn't sound like [it was] discussed poncho. the prepurchase examination consisted of both a physical evaluation and thing." (italics added.) medical history were excluded from the prepurchase examination, and dr. mcclellan "i think [the veterinarian's] responsibility -- . . . -- is to discuss the findings [citation.]' " (id. at p. 1424, quoting landeros v. flood (1976) 17 cal.3d 399, 410.) this on october 30, 2008, dr. mcclellan performed the prepurchase examination on 3. the prepurchase examination the prepurchase examinations of both horses. conclude that there is no evidence in the record of a relevant recognized standard of care veterinarian malpractice against dr. mcclellan and san dieguito.3 she argued that dr. parts of the prepurchase to me are identifying the problems . . . [¶] joint injections. [the] [m]ore times that a joint is injected, the more likely it is that the to establish a veterinarian malpractice claim, a plaintiff is required to present 3 dr. heidmann further explained "the communication is the most important part [of appeal from a judgment of the superior court of san diego county, problem" and that it had been treated with injections. however, dr. mcclellan did not go the results of the bone scan revealed a "hot spot" on poncho's left front elbow. dr. that about every six months for the past two years, poncho was treated for these should have disclosed that information to quigley. dr. heidmann explained: "to me one dr. ouellette to administer the neck injections to see if poncho's lameness would numerous times and performed diagnostic blocks, bone scans, and radiographs. he state of california january 2006, he began to manifest physical signs of a left hind lameness2 that was order certifying opinion huffman, acting p. j. synonymous with "any" evidence, but refers to the quality, not the quantity of the standard in performing the prepurchase examination of poncho. we conclude there was the judgment is reversed. dr. mcclellan and san dieguito equine group are any evidence in support of the trier of fact's findings in order to affirm the judgment.


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