Couple sues vet over cat's death

  By Thomas Wilson
star staff

  An Elizabethton couple has filed a lawsuit alleging medical malpractice against a local veterinarian involving the death of their cat in December 2003.
  Filed in Carter County Circuit Court this week, the lawsuit names veterinarian Colleen Jones as defendant against plaintiffs Terry and Michelle Payne. The plaintiffs allege Jones breached her duty of care while treating their domestic, short-haired female cat "Piglet" at The Good News Clinic on Milligan Highway in Johnson City.
  According to the lawsuit, the Paynes brought Piglet to Jones for veterinary treatment on Dec. 8, 2003. The couple believed the cat was suffering from diarrhea and/or worms, the complaint states. Jones admitted the cat to the clinic and treated the animal for two days, according to the complaint.
  The complaint states Piglet later died on Dec. 20, 2003.
  The lawsuit states that the cat died due to Jones not recognizing "coccidia", the signs of an infectious disease in the cat, and the inappropriate use of a medication identified as dexamethasone on a sick animal.
  Coccidia are identified as single-celled, intestinal parasites that are passed in an animal's stool.
  The lawsuit alleges Jones breached her duty of care to the Paynes by failing to advise them of a deviation in treatment and failing to meet the acceptable level of care in veterinary treatment.
  The Paynes seek $6,000 in damages, punitive damages due to the defendant's alleged concealment of the cat's condition, and a jury trial.
  Attorney Bruce Shine of Kingsport filed the lawsuit on behalf of the Paynes. He declined to comment on the lawsuit on Thursday.
  Jones did not immediately return a telephone call from the Elizabethton Star on Thursday seeking comment.