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Owners of electrocuted dog file $60,000 claim

March 14th, 2011 by Thea

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.

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