Owner sues vets over steroid injection

  • A horse owner’s bid for compensation after her dressage horse died following steroid treatment is currently awaiting a ruling by the judge in London’s High Court.

    The court heard how former French national champion Annastasia died as a result of laminitis in July 2001 after a steroid injection during a week-long trial, which closed last Wednesday.

    Her owner, solicitor Jane McGarel-Groves, is suing Sussex vet Philip Glyn, of Priors Farm Equine Veterinary Surgery, whom Patrick Lawrence QC, for McGarel-Groves, said oversaw the horse’s treatment.

    Also being sued is vet Erik Grandiere — who injected Anna with corticosteroids in 2001 — and his employer, the Clinique Veterinaire Equine de Chantilly.

    Lawrence claimed that McGarel-Groves was not warned of the risk that steroids might cause laminitis. But defence lawyers insisted the risks were so slight that “no warning was called for” and deny all liability.

    Lawrence told the court that McGarel-Groves bought Anna in the early 1990s. The mare was ridden by British-based French rider Michel Assouline, and became French national dressage champion in 2000.

    Defence lawyers argued that steroid treatment for high-performance horses was common and the risk of laminitis as a result was no higher than 0.6%.

    The defence also disputed the horse’s value. Where McGarel-Groves says the mare was worth £600,000, defence lawyers say she was worth £175,000-£200,000.

    Both sides gave their closing speeches last Wednesday and the case is now awaiting the judge’s verdict.

  • This news story first appeared in Horse & Hound (19 May, ’05)

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