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socrateaser, Lawyer
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Experience:  Retired (mostly)
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I purchased and used an odor control product labeled 100% non-toxic

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I purchased and used an odor control product labeled 100% non-toxic and safe for pets. I followed all instructions on it and after using it my 14 year old Shih-Tzu that I have had for her entire life suffered several life threatening seizures. She was treated by the vet and after a couple of days began to return to her normal self. I brought her home and within 10 minutes she was showing signs of a possible seizure. I removed her from the house and took her back to the vets office. Within 30 minutes she was her normal self. I had the carpets disinfected (the bottle said it was safe to use in all carpet cleaners and even to spray directly on your pet). She has been fine since. Her blood work and tests revealed an inflammed liver (a sign of chemical poisoning). This is the only chemical product I used and I used it only once. When I went to their website - there is a "Vet Formula" that they recommend but it doesn't state that on the bottle of the regular version. I now have a huge vet bill, the guilt of knowing that this product almost killed my dog (I have had her since my son died when he was two days old). Is there a way to sue the manufacturer of the product for the mislabeling for damages, the vet bills, cleaning and the stress it placed on me? As a heart patient (had a heart attack less than 2 years ago at the age of 40) it was very stressful on me. What can I do to make sure this doesn't happen to someone elses pet and recoup any monies for damages, cleanings and vet bills. This occured two weeks ago. Until then she had no other health issues (other than arthritis from age) and since the cleaning (and not using the product) she is perfectly healthly and her blood work has returned to normal.
An "over-the-counter" medication (purchased without a prescription) is subject to the ordinary laws of "products liability." This means that a manufacturer can be held liable for personal injury or property damage caused to a person due to a defect in design, manufacture, or warning of the product causing the injury.

A pet is considered "property" not "person" (though, most pet owners justifiably consider their pets members of the family). Regardless, if your pet was injured by a product which contained an insufficient warning of its dangers, then you can recover damages for the costs related to the pet's injury.

However, obtaining emotional damages for yourself, based upon the pet's injury is a different story. Plaintiffs cannot generally recover emotional damages for injuries caused to their spouse or child -- so recovering emotional damages based upon an injury to a pet is extraordinarily unlikely.

I don't know how much money is at stake here, but if your vet bills are $3,500 or less, then you can sue the manufacturer in small claims court without a lawyer, and perhaps contact the local media about your situation, and you may end up receiving a settlement from the manufacturer just to keep you quiet about the product's dangers.

Typically, a plaintiff sends a demand letter before filing a lawsuit. So, you could contact the manufacturer, send the demand letter requesting reimbursement for your vet bills and any other associated costs, such as the cost of the product, travel too and from the vet, cleaning bills for the carpet, etc. And, if the manufacturer doesn't pay, then you file your lawsuit and let the judge decide if you have a valid products liability claim. You may not win, but you only risk your justice court filing fee, and if you win, then it was worth the gamble.

For info on justice court small claims in Mississippi, see this link.

Note: If you spend more than $3,500, then you may want to contact a products liability attorney and see if someone is wiling to take the case on contingency. I can't promise that anyone would be interested, but you won't know unless you shop the case to at least three law firms. For a list of products liability attorneys in Mississippi, see this link.

Hope this helps.

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Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you. It isn't so much about me and the emotional stuff - just to see her suffer. The night after the seizure her vet made hourly trips to the clinic to continue to sedate her and check on her. She told me later that she truly didn't expect her to live through the night. The bill was $632.50, the carpet cleaning was $151.00 and the product (Odornix - manufactured in Alabama) was around $5.97 at Wal-Mart. She has to return to the vet next week for follow up blood work and that will be around $200. I do not use anything around my dogs. They are both 14, she was/is healthy but my male is diabetic (on regulated insulin shots), blind and they both eat a prescription diet food....seriously I never knew the vet would have to write a prescription for me for their food. I have previously only used professional carpet cleaners but read about the product and decided that (based on the label) that I would try it. Would it be better for my vet to write something for me stating the test results, etc. before I send a letter to the company? I have never considered suing anyone but with this I don't want it to happen to someone else. The vet bill included the treatment and boarding until I could have the carpets disinfected (using only water at 240 degrees) by ServiceMaster. My vet said that to prevent another seizure (since she had shown signs of one when I brought her back home) I had to clear the house of any trace of the chemical. I am basically looking at a little under $1000.00 in total care resulting from this.

It's a small claims case. You won't get a lawyer interested, in my opinion. But, you may be able to get a local news reporter to bring the issue to light. I wouldn't go that route first. I'd contact the manufacturer and ask to be reimbursed for my damages, and see whether or not they respond. If you don't hear anything in 30-60 days, then you can pretty much figure the manufacturer intends to ignore you, and you'll have to sue and/or contact the media to get any satisfaction.

Another avenue would be to contact Clark Howard. Sometimes, his consumer protection radio show can get a manufacturer to take care of a customer as a means of avoiding bad press (and getting some good press).

Hope this helps.
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