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Ask Law Educator, Esq. Your Own Question
Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 118809
Experience:  JA Mentor -Attorney Labor/employment, corporate, sports law, admiralty/maritime and civil rights law
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Where to start.... I purchased a puppy last year for $1800.

Customer Question

Hello. Where to start.... I purchased a puppy last year for $1800. At 8 months of age he was diagnosed with a hereditary disease. The sale contract states that the cost will be refunded if the puppy has such a disease. I've asked the breeder twice for a refund but she says she's not legally obligated to pay me back. Now I want to sue for the cost of the puppy plus vet bills plus time away from work plus heartache - somewhere in the area of $8000. I'm debating small claims or civil court. I need advice either way.
JA: What state is this in? And just to clarify, when was the purchase made?
Customer: Michigan. Purchased July 25, 2015 when the puppy was 9 weeks old.
JA: Has anything been filed or reported?
Customer: No. Just one verbal request and one written request for refund.
JA: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: I don't know.
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 11 months ago.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.
Under MI law, your puppy is considered property and as such you cannot seek emotional damages under damage to property or breach of contract, which are your two claims here. If you have a contract with the breeder that guaranteed the puppy would not have a hereditary disease and if as you said the contract says you would be refunded, then you would need to sue her for breach of contract and you can recover any costs incurred from the breach of contract, including vet bills and cost of the puppy. However, under MI law, the limit in small claims is $5500, so that is the most you can sue for and recover in small claims. If you want more money, you have to sue in the regular civil court for the damages you suffered from their breach of contract.
So, you have to decide whether to sue in small claims for the maximum $5500 and that is all you will recover or whether or not to sue in the regular civil division and seek the full actual damages (no emotional damages), but you do have a right to sue if your contract provided protection.
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