West Orange County Regional Court
8141 13th Street
Westminster, CA 92683

Small Claims Case No. 322329

Judgment Filed: July 6, 1998

All-Care Animal Referral Center

Lisa Deaver and Greg Deaver

Summary of Case:
The Deavers refused to pay the bill executed by All-Care Animal Referral Center due to negligence on the part of All-Care.

Judgment for the Defendants.

Statement Entered Into Court:

I, Gregory W. Deaver, recognize Dr. Rachel Gilligan incompetent at her role in managing the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at All Care Animal Hospital for the below reasons:

My Labrador Retriever, Morgan, was in the care of Dr. Gilligan and Dr. Rooks at All Care ICU with a terminal nasal tumor that had erupted on September 24, 1997 by abrupt sneezing. Morgan was stabilized at another animal hospital and then released to the referred All Care for a MRI. While hospitalized at Animal All Care for two days while waiting to be scheduled in the for the M R I, Dr. Gilligan primarily managed Morgan's care. On September 26, 1997 my wife and I went to visit Morgan while in ICU, under Dr. Gilligan's care. While visiting Morgan, his excitement level elevated, and he started to sneeze continuously for almost two minutes with Dr. Gilligan present. The sneezing created bleeding that was released through the gauze-packed nasal cavity, and it was definitely a critical time to react. Dr. Gilligan presented herself to the situation, as being very flustered, not knowing which way to turn. She finally located some type of emergency reference book as if she had no clue how to react. After fumbling through some pages, she walked off with the book out of the ICU not acknowledging the present situation. We were left with Morgan bleeding with no care. I had to run over to a busy technician and stress the situation with him to get his care. He administered more pain relief drugs to alter the excitement level of Morgan. Dr. Gilligan came back into the ICU around fifteen minutes later never addressing Morgan's care and she acted as if nothing had happened. Later that evening, after Dr. Gilligan located the MRI, she pulled my wife and I aside to go over the terminal results. Dr. Gilligan stated that she had only a minute to go over the results because she was very busy. She led us into a busy hallway with other customers around and gave us the heart breaking news. She stated that Morgan's tumor was too large to be treated, and he only had two to three weeks to live. She recommended scheduling an appointment to put him down. Not being a licensed Oncologist and presented with a stressed environment, Dr. Gilligan felt comfortable delivering this terminal information. After discussing Morgan's MRI results with other licensed Oncologists, we concluded that Dr. Gilligan's statement was totally invalid and at most, an educated guess. Morgan was treated by radiation at another hospital, which prolonged his life much further. If we had listened to Dr. Gilligan's advice, we would not have had this valuable time with him.

Under penalty of perjury in the State of California, the above situation is true.

Gregory W. Deaver


Letter to All-Care Animal Referral Center dated October 11, 1997:

All Care Animal Referral Center
18449 Amistad Street
Fountain Valley, CA 92708

Dear All Care,

I am writing in reference to the recent statement I have received from you reflecting a balance due of 5608.80. As I stated on September 24, 1997 when our dog was dismissed by you, we would be paying only the $950.00 that we were quoted. We were told in the beginning that our fee would be $750.00 to $950.00. We were never informed during his stay there that the fees were exceeding this amount, and there was no informed consent. We were told only at the time of his dismissal that the new fee was $1558.80. In addition, the service we received at All Care was so poor, that I was going to be writing a letter to Kathleen McCleron and Dr. Rooks himself. I will be forwarding a copy of this letter to them. Let me start from the beginning.

It was Sunday, September 21st when our seven-year-old chocolate lab (our only child) spontaneously sneezed and as a consequence, almost bled to death until Dr. Kalthoff, at his Vista location, saved "Morgan." He was wonderful. He took head x-rays and coagulation panels, stabilized him and referred us up to All Care in Fountain Valley where nothing but disappointments followed. When we arrived in the parking lot at All Care, my husband ran in to get help. An auxiliary came out and handed me, in tears and literally covered in blood with Morgan in my lap, a clipboard with paperwork to fill out prior to bringing Morgan in. I could not even write; my hands were shaking so bad. I finally asked him to please get Morgan back first, and he obliged trying to make Morgan walk, unsuccessfully. Morgan, a seventy-eight pound dog, was heavily sedated and could not walk. This was clearly obvious. Astutely, he then retrieved a stretcher.

We then saw Dr. Gilligan who did not see this as an emergency at all, and was in fact, too casual about the whole thing. She insisted on taking new radiographs and new coagulation panels even though I informed her that these were just taken. I brought the radiographs with me, and Dr. Kalthoff said that the results from the coagulation panels he took would be in the next day with all of the technology at All Care. She said we would not be charged, and we were. We left Morgan there and drove back to San Diego heartbroken with no answers. They were unable to take the MRI or perform a biopsy until Tuesday. We were also told, therefore, that Monday nights stay would not be charged to us either since they were just backed up, but we were. WE visited Morgan on Monday and on Tuesday, and we took him home Wednesday. We never received any calls updating us on Morgan. When we called, we were almost never able to speak with any doctors as they were too busy and would have to call us back. Sometimes they called back, but much later, and we never spoke to the same person. It was so cold and impersonal. No one knew Morgan's case or what was going on. They did not even know his name. He was, on the inside, referred to as a number. The communication was terrible. In fact, on Tuesday night when we went to visit Morgan who was in I.C.U., as auxiliary brought out the wrong dog to us, another chocolate lab. There were others in the waiting room to witness this. When I looked at her in disbelief, she said "Well, I thought you'd like to take him out for a walk." I said to her, "That would be great, but that's not my dog, and my dog is in ICU" She said she would be right back. We waited twenty minutes until we realized they had forgotten about us, so we found out own way back.

On our visits to see Morgan, we wanted to sit down and talk with a doctor about what is going on. Everyone was always too busy. Morgan was in a small cage in a busy hallway when we visited. We were never escorted to a "visiting room" with any privacy, and these were very emotional visits as we did not know if Morgan would ever see "home" again. We were crawled over, LITERALLY, the entire time to the point where I actually crawled into the cage with Morgan to get us out of the way. It was Tuesday night that we went to visit Morgan and review the MRI findings. ????????????, therefore Dr. Gilligan with no time to talk to us as usual, interrupted our visit with Morgan after we just removed him from his cage (IV's and all) to go over his MRI real fast while she had "a couple of seconds" available - our only chance. So after Morgan just "wet" himself two seconds before out of excitement to see us, which he has never done in seven years, we put him back in his cage, temporarily. Dr. Gilligan then escorted us to a very busy hallway with no privacy. She there placed the MRI films up on the view box and, coldly, delivered the news that the tumor was enormous and probably malignant (biopsy report not available until Friday). She said surgery was not an option because you would have to "carve out his whole head." She said Morgan probably had about two weeks to live, and that radiation, if an option at all (she wasn't the specialist), probably wouldn't help much. I was in tears in this busy hallway, and she "had to run" - another patient was waiting.

We, at various times, spoke with Dr. Candletta, Dr. Haddad, Dr. Ankoma, and Dr. Dhaliwal also. The only one we meet in person was Dr. Ankone, who had terrible communication skills. In fact, another doctor even verified this fact. Dr. Dhaliwal was the only person to seem to be familiar with Morgan's case and have any knowledge or information to convey whatsoever. But again, he was only in town one or two weekends a month. He recommended radiation treatment. With all of the disorganization, lack of communication, and contradictions at All Care, we called the Veterinary Specialty Hospital in Rancho Santa Fe days prior to see if they could shed some light on this issue. They were so helpful. Dr. Wallack, voluntarily, took the time to call All Care himself for us to try to "bridge the communication gap." He had about as much trouble as we did finding out anything. He suggested we see Dr. Richter, an oncology specialist, for a second opinion once Morgan was released if we would like.

When Morgan was released on Wednesday, September 24, 1997, we were only given our dog (by an unknown auxiliary) and a bill with an adjoining paper with instructions on when to take what medications. A doctor was not available to speak with. This, I find astonishing. Naturally, we wanted to know about home care instructions, what to watch for, has he received any of his medications yet that day, has he been fed, and most importantly, is he going to bleed to death again? Nothing! Finally, after requesting and waiting thirty minutes, a Dr. Jensen whom we had never seen before was sent out to talk to us. This was useless as she did not know Morgan, his case, anything about oncology, nothing. She worked in an entirely different department. This was comforting. In fact, when she came out, she walked over to a man and his son with their dog and mistakenly started talking to them until they looked at her in disbelief and pointed us out to her.

This was how the entire experience with All Care went. The place was a zoo. I cannot imagine that this is the first time you have been enlightened with such information. You might have all the equipment, bells and whistles, but the compassion and communication are severely lacking, and in situations like this, that is most important. We wanted to meet Dr. Rooks who would be performing the surgery/biopsy, but he was "untouchable." A simple self-introduction, a hand-shake, a brief synopsis of what he saw and/or how Morgan did would have sufficed. This, again, was too much to ask. Dismissing our dog with nothing more than a bill and written medication instructions was unbelievable. I stated my frustrations with All Care toward the end, and nobody cared. We were never informed of the fee's exceeding the estimate of $750.00 to $950.000 which is why we will not be paying the additional $608.80 you feel we owe. For that matter, we feel you have some audacity to even charge the $950.00 which we have already paid.

When dismissing Morgan we requested verbally and in writing that the records and duplications of the radiographs be forwarded to the Veterinary Specialty Hospital in Rancho Santa Fe. The, themselves, spoke to you and requested this information as well. After explicit instructions, the time was certainly of the essence for Morgan. All Care managed to address the MRI to the wrong P.O. Box number (in fact, to the last four digits of their fax machine). It was therefore lost in the mail for a week until it was finally found. We have since received a second opinion from the Animal Specialty Hospital in Rancho Santa Fe where the quality and compassion, the communication and the time spent cannot be beat. Morgan is currently receiving radiation treatment elsewhere with a prognosis of another one and a half to two years.

Clearly, you can see my point. I only hope you can learn from this and implement change before you go on hurting people who are already in enough pain. If you have further questions, you may contact me.


Lisa M. Deaver