Owners of electrocuted dog file $60,000 claim

Posted on March 14th, 2011 by Editor


Lisa McKibbin and her mother, Nancy Bostdorff, the owners of the six-year-old German shorthaired pointer named Sammy who died after stepping onto an energized streetlight ground-cover plate on Queen Anne Avenue on Thanksgiving Day, have filed a $60,000 claim with Seattle City Light over the dog’s death, according to a report by The Seattle Times.

McKibbin and Bostdorff are being represented by Bellingham-based attorney Adam Karp, who specializes in animal law. The 17-page claim, which was filed Friday, included a note from Karp that the two would settle for $30,000 if City Light would agree the the following three conditions:

  1. That City Light post contact-voltage safety tips on its website;
  2. The City Light would take part in an annual contact-voltage safety conference;
  3. That City Light would make contact-voltage scans annual rather than every four years.

After Sammy’s death City Light conducted inspections of more than 37,000 streetlights and associated equipment citywide, finding and fixing a total of 56 sites where contact voltage of at least 30 volts was detected.

From The Seattle Times:

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.

McKibbin originally purchased Sammy for $200.

Included in the claim were photos of Sammy on vacation with his owners, and postings by McKibbin from the blog she created shortly after his death. Karp told the Times that McKibbin needs counseling that 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.”

Suzanne Hartman, spokeswoman for City Light, told the Times that they will take a look at the claim and put it through the “normal processing to determine the reasonableness.” Karp told the Times that if no settlement is reached within 60 days, a lawsuit will follow. Read the full Times piece here. See our past coverage of the tragedy and inspections that followed here.


  • QAresident

    While the dog’s death is sad, the owner’s claim is ridiculous. Presumably that is why she had to travel to Bellingham to find an attorney willing to represent her. The value of the dog is it’s replacement value, presumably the $200 she paid for the dog a few years back, plus the dog’s emergency treatment and cremation bills. Their is no emotional distress claim for a loss of a pet, only family members, so her claim for mental health counseling is baseless. The money she put into maintaining her dog is also immaterial.

  • QAresident

    While the dog’s death is sad, the owner’s claim is ridiculous. Presumably that is why she had to travel to Bellingham to find an attorney willing to represent her. The value of the dog is it’s replacement value, presumably the $200 she paid for the dog a few years back, plus the dog’s emergency treatment and cremation bills. Their is no emotional distress claim for a loss of a pet, only family members, so her claim for mental health counseling is baseless. The money she put into maintaining her dog is also immaterial.

  • QA Resident, yes, you convey the voice of reason. I too , love my dog and would be devastated if this occureed but lack of medical insurance is another matter unrelated to a dogs death. I think too that $1539 is a reasonable ask, $60k is absurd.

  • QA Resident, yes, you convey the voice of reason. I too , love my dog and would be devastated if this occureed but lack of medical insurance is another matter unrelated to a dogs death. I think too that $1539 is a reasonable ask, $60k is absurd.

  • dave

    If the city has a million dollars to give to cop killers aunt. I really think they should cough up $60,000 to the dogs family. Isn’t this a great city we live in. The have mo money then they know what to do with.

  • dave

    If the city has a million dollars to give to cop killers aunt. I really think they should cough up $60,000 to the dogs family. Isn’t this a great city we live in. The have mo money then they know what to do with.

  • Mike

    I would like to make a request that the city install life size solid gold statues of Sammy every where a streetlamp is in memory of this positively shocking tragedy. Also-I am suing the city for 10 million dollars as their irresponsible garbage man threw away my life sized body pillow who I thought of as a wife. She was simply warming herself in the sun in order to more comfortably snuggle with me when a murderous municipal monster massacred my magnificent maiden. I will accept 5 million if then city offers classes to educate the public that body pillows are people…sized objects.

  • Mike

    I would like to make a request that the city install life size solid gold statues of Sammy every where a streetlamp is in memory of this positively shocking tragedy. Also-I am suing the city for 10 million dollars as their irresponsible garbage man threw away my life sized body pillow who I thought of as a wife. She was simply warming herself in the sun in order to more comfortably snuggle with me when a murderous municipal monster massacred my magnificent maiden. I will accept 5 million if then city offers classes to educate the public that body pillows are people…sized objects.

  • chris

    Lots of mean responses here. My first thought was $60k wouldn’t be nearly enough to compensate for how traumatic it must have been to have her dog electrocuted while walking by her side. Her loss spurred the city to prevent it from happening to anyone else’s dog, but she will always have to carry that trauma.

  • chris

    Lots of mean responses here. My first thought was $60k wouldn’t be nearly enough to compensate for how traumatic it must have been to have her dog electrocuted while walking by her side. Her loss spurred the city to prevent it from happening to anyone else’s dog, but she will always have to carry that trauma.

  • Alice

    I agree Chris, the responses are cruel at best!! My heart goes out to the owner, I cannot imagine the horror of witnessing what she did, I would never get over it.
    The City should agree to the conditions, pay up and be thankful that was not a child, then there would be hell to pay!!

  • Alice

    I agree Chris, the responses are cruel at best!! My heart goes out to the owner, I cannot imagine the horror of witnessing what she did, I would never get over it.
    The City should agree to the conditions, pay up and be thankful that was not a child, then there would be hell to pay!!

  • Robert

    QA resident – Please explain how you know this woman had to go to Bellingham to find an attorney because she had trouble finding someone to represent her. If you did a 2 second google search you’d see the attorney she hired specializes in animal injury/death cases. So now I suppose you’re going to criticize the lawyer instead of acknowledging you’re making stuff up because you have nothing to do other than troll around the internet and looking for opportunities to spew your hateful rhetoric. And to say that losing a pet causes no emotional stress means you’ve never lost a pet. At least I hope you haven’t.

  • Robert

    QA resident – Please explain how you know this woman had to go to Bellingham to find an attorney because she had trouble finding someone to represent her. If you did a 2 second google search you’d see the attorney she hired specializes in animal injury/death cases. So now I suppose you’re going to criticize the lawyer instead of acknowledging you’re making stuff up because you have nothing to do other than troll around the internet and looking for opportunities to spew your hateful rhetoric. And to say that losing a pet causes no emotional stress means you’ve never lost a pet. At least I hope you haven’t.

  • Richard

    I’m extremely disappointed with Lisa McKibbin and Nancy Bostdorff (the owners of Sammy) over this latest development. As a Queen Anne dog owner myself, I was deeply saddened by the loss they suffered when Sammy was electrocuted. I was also seriously concerned for the safety of my own dog. Now Lisa and Nancy have gone too far.

    Seattle City Light — a company we all own as citizens of Seattle — responded to the situation in a more than adequate fashion. The debate over Sammy’s monetary value to Lisa and Nancy is little more than a red herring. What matters is that Lisa and Nancy are asking us, as the owners of Seattle City Light, to pay them $30K to $60K for their loss. They should be shunned in our community for making such a demand.

  • Richard

    I’m extremely disappointed with Lisa McKibbin and Nancy Bostdorff (the owners of Sammy) over this latest development. As a Queen Anne dog owner myself, I was deeply saddened by the loss they suffered when Sammy was electrocuted. I was also seriously concerned for the safety of my own dog. Now Lisa and Nancy have gone too far.

    Seattle City Light — a company we all own as citizens of Seattle — responded to the situation in a more than adequate fashion. The debate over Sammy’s monetary value to Lisa and Nancy is little more than a red herring. What matters is that Lisa and Nancy are asking us, as the owners of Seattle City Light, to pay them $30K to $60K for their loss. They should be shunned in our community for making such a demand.

  • Robert

    Richard – Do you work for City Light or did you just not read any of the coverage. City Light has known about dangerous streetlights for years and done nothing. In 2009 a dog was shocked by a streetlight and all SCL did was fix it. They didn’t check for other problems even though we now know over 200 of the lights were giving off dangerous levels of activity. After Lisa’s dog was killed SCL said it was an isolated incident even though they had no data to back up this claim. It took 2 more dogs getting shocked before they were forced to admit they had a systemic problem that needed to be fixed. Now SCL says that it can only check streetlights once every 4 years even though cities as large as New York can do it several times a year. Lisa’s refusal to be assuaged by SCL’s lame explanations and determination to hold it accountable for ignoring public safety forced the utility to fix all the streetlights in the city that were giving off dangerous levels of voltage. Who knows how many other people and/or animals could have been shocked or killed if SCL had not checked all the streetlight. If Lisa wins her lawsuit for the full amount, it will cost each resident about $10. And you think they should be “shunned”? Really? What authority do you have to pass such a judgement? I guess if we lived in 17th century Salem MA you’d have them burned at the stake?

  • Robert

    Richard – Do you work for City Light or did you just not read any of the coverage. City Light has known about dangerous streetlights for years and done nothing. In 2009 a dog was shocked by a streetlight and all SCL did was fix it. They didn’t check for other problems even though we now know over 200 of the lights were giving off dangerous levels of activity. After Lisa’s dog was killed SCL said it was an isolated incident even though they had no data to back up this claim. It took 2 more dogs getting shocked before they were forced to admit they had a systemic problem that needed to be fixed. Now SCL says that it can only check streetlights once every 4 years even though cities as large as New York can do it several times a year. Lisa’s refusal to be assuaged by SCL’s lame explanations and determination to hold it accountable for ignoring public safety forced the utility to fix all the streetlights in the city that were giving off dangerous levels of voltage. Who knows how many other people and/or animals could have been shocked or killed if SCL had not checked all the streetlight. If Lisa wins her lawsuit for the full amount, it will cost each resident about $10. And you think they should be “shunned”? Really? What authority do you have to pass such a judgement? I guess if we lived in 17th century Salem MA you’d have them burned at the stake?