After cat bite, woman sues sister for $300,000

NEWS AND COMMENT: I feel that I need to comment on this story because immediately, in the first few paragraphs, I can see a problem with it. The report comes from the Independent newspaper. It tells us that a woman in Michigan, USA is suing her sister because her sister’s cat bit her on the right wrist (more like the hand – see photo) when she was visiting her sister’s home.

Cat bite
Cat bite
Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment. It is a way to help animal welfare without much effort at no cost. Comments help this website too, which is about animal welfare.

The cat bit her without warning and she suffered multiple puncture wounds. But here’s the problem: the woman, Terra Simpson, 48, reported that her arm swelled up to 3 times its normal size. Clearly, she suffered an enormous bacterial infection in her arm but this strongly indicates to me that she waited for this to happen. She did not take any immediate preventative steps.

If you watch the site of the cat bite carefully after cleaning it and it turns a little red due to inflammation then you can bet your bottom dollar that you have a localised bacterial infection which will likely spread. At that point you make an urgent appointment with your doctor to obtain the correct type of antibiotics to fight the bacteria injected into your arm by a cat bite. That will resolve the matter. It will prevent what Ms Simpson suffered which was a much more generalised and serious bacterial infection in her arm. This can be quite serious. In fact, in the worst cases it can kill a person.

Ms Simpson suffered a severe reaction and required medical treatment including surgical intervention, medications and physical therapy. That’s according to the lawsuit she has filed with the local court.

In addition, Simpson says that she had a cat allergy that her sister was aware of. I don’t think this has any relevance to the bacterial infection. In fact I don’t see it being relevant to the litigation.

The lawsuit states that her sister knew that her cat had a history of aggression and did not have updated vaccinations. The lack of vaccinations to her cat is also irrelevant in my view in this case. The history of aggression is relevant but it was up to the sister, Simpson, to take precautions.

There is a certain element contributory negligence here meaning the visitor i.e. Ms Simpson needed to be more cautious about interacting with her sister’s cat.

The lawsuit argues that her sister had a duty to act with reasonable care in protecting visitors. That would, in the UK, refer to what is called “occupiers liability”. Her sister probably did have a duty of care towards her sister to provide a warning to her about her cat’s aggression and if that didn’t happen then there may be some liability there. But there’s also, it would appear to me, to be an element of contributory negligence on behalf of Ms Simpson.

The amount of $300,000 in damages is an extraordinary number. But it relates to medical injuries and mental anguish. The photograph of the injuries suffered by Ms Simpson are simply horrendous. I can hardly believe what I’m looking at. I can’t present the photograph on this page because it will upset the advertisers but you can see it by clicking on this link which takes you to a page which only presents the photograph. The picture was provided by Terra Simpson.

Ms Simpson is continuing to attend physical therapy appointments. It’s unclear if she will make a full recovery. The cat’s name is Zoey. She has now died of old age apparently. So the lawsuit was introduced quite late in the day it seems to me. There will be a time limit on that but if this is a case of negligence then the time limit is six years as I understand it.

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1 thought on “After cat bite, woman sues sister for $300,000”

  1. I knew an old lady, a neighbour, who was a kind person and who took in a stray cat but was bitten by that cat on her arm which doesn’t surprise me. And this lady didn’t do anything about it until her arm became black and blue, having been badly infected. She had to go to hospital for treatment and at hospital she died perhaps not because of the cat bite but because of other issues that one encounters in hospital in the UK. Without wishing to be unkind to the NHS, our hospitals are often places where you die but where you entered in order to be treated, sometimes for a minor condition. NHS hospitals are dangerous places. The principle is to steer clear of them and in this instance the lady should have immediately taken antibiotics having seen their GP which would have allowed her to control the infection and as it happens extended her life considerably.

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