When: The news release about the Petland lawsuit was published in the Springfield News-Miner on June 7, 2009. The lawsuit named John Doe, of Springfield, and Petland Petcare Company, LLC, of Springfield, in this lawsuit. John Doe is suing the Petland store on a breach of contract and breach of express warranty. John Doe is seeking monetary damages for mental and physical pain and suffering, medical expenses, future losses, and in some cases an amount of punitive damages.
Who: John Doe is a pet owner living in Grove City, IL. He bought his dog Candybars from the Petland store located at the corner of Main Street in Grove City, on March 3rd, 2008. On the day Candybar died, John Doe’s dog died from asphyxiation, caused by toxic poisoning. A pet cleaner company that is part of the Petland corporation, was selling cleaners and was distributing them to various businesses, including pet stores, at the time of the death. When Candybar died, John and Candybar’s dog had a chance to enter into an area that is off limits for pets, but the employees did not make sure that it was safe. When Candybar died, John Doe called the pet loss account and an associate with the account contacted him days later claiming that they could help him, and they did.
How: On March 9th, the Springfield News-Miner reported that Petland had a pending lawsuit due to a breach of warranty. According to the News-Miner, Petland’s warranty agreement states that Petland can “forgo its right to inspect for compliance with applicable ordinances.” On March 10th, after this lawsuit was filed, the Missouri attorney general sent a letter to Springfield City Attorney Robert Rice stating that Petland was in breach of their warranty because their employees “walked through an area that was off-limits to pets in violation of city ordinances”. The attorney general stated that he had called the Springfield Police Department and asked them to arrest the employees involved, but that the police were unaware of such a violation. In the letter, the attorney general requested that the city take immediate action in “consistency with the letter of the state”.
The lawsuit: On March 13th, the Missouri county officials said that they had forwarded the complaint to the county attorney, requesting that the case be heard by the courts. The county officials said that Petland owed a duty to protect customers from conditions that would “put others’ pets in harm’s way”. The county officials also cited language in the pet building ordinance that specifically addressed “puppy mills” and “concentrated breeders”. The ordinance defined a “puppy mill” as a business where puppies are bred for profit. The county officials said that they had a strong opinion that Petland was in violation of their puppy mill ordinance.
Petland’s owner, Robert Sarnacki, stated that he was unaware that he had signed a contract with Petland when he brought his sick puppy to the pet store. He further stated that he had no knowledge that Petland was selling sick puppies at the store. The lawsuit was later dismissed by the county court judge on the ground that the contract was invalid because it did not specify that the puppies would be sold at a pet store. The court noted that the county had failed to provide evidence that the contract was valid.
Sarnacki later sued the general manager and director of Petland on the basis that they should have more time to find out whether Petland was legally selling puppies in the county. The general manager and director later sued Sarnacki again, this time in St. Louis county court. A jury eventually awarded Sarnacki a judgment for medical expenses and replacement costs for the sick puppy. Ultimately, the verdict failed to produce a remedy because no settlement was reached between Sarnacki and the Petland corporation. The general manager and director later resigned from their positions.