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Really?! Man Whose Cat Ate Lilies Sues Florist

I believe it's not the retailer's responsibility to warn customers who own cats, but the cat owners' responsibility to know that lilies are poisonous.

 |  Sep 13th 2013  |   17 Contributions


Little did Charley Gee know when he stopped at the grocery store on the way home from work and bought his wife a bouquet of beautiful lilies, but he was bringing home a FISTFUL OF FLORAL DOOOOOOOM!

Or so says his lawyer, who alleges that although the lilies had a warning label stating that they were not for human consumption and that they might stain clothes, the company was negligent in not including a cat-specific warning.

Gee’s cat, Boogaloo, chewed on some of the lilies' leaves and had to be rushed to an emergency veterinary clinic for dialysis. The cat spent four days in recovery, and his treatment cost Gee and his wife, Kara Bredahl, more than $1,500.

Now Gee is suing retailer New Seasons and its floral supplier, Bay City Flower Co. His complaint filed at the Multnomah County Circuit Court in Oregon stated that the lily was “unreasonably dangerous,” according to an article on OregonLive.com.

Really? Really?

Lots of people bring home lilies every day, and lots of cats eat them. Therefore, lots of cats end up at the vet for lifesaving treatment. Lilies really are highly toxic to cats, after all. But how often do you hear about people suing florists because their cat ate poisonous flowers?

Here’s a hint: Not very often. And do you know why that is? Because cat caretakers understand that they are responsible for their cats’ care and well-being. If they didn’t know lilies are harmful to cats, they take it as a lesson -- albeit one learned the hard way.

But not Gee! He says the responsibility for the warning is all on the florist and it’s totally not up to cat owners to know it themselves. If Gee and his wife had children, would they put all the burden of responsibility for their kids’ safety on clothing and toy manufacturers, or would they ... I dunno ... act like adults and do their own research?

But hey, responsibility is hard! So when New Seasons and Bay City Flower Co. refused to pay for Boogaloo’s vet care, Gee took his tantrum to court.

Gee’s attorney says flower industry documentation warns retailers about the risk lilies pose to cats. Well, so does the ASPCA’s web directory of toxic plants

Okay, Mr. Gee, here’s a reality check: How is a grocery store cashier supposed to know the ins and outs of every flower the store sells? How is the cashier supposed to know he or she should ask customers if they have a cat at home before selling them lilies? (I suspect that if the clerk had asked you whether you have a cat, you’d be suing the store for invasion of privacy.)

And honestly, when’s the last time you read a label on a bouquet of flowers? If you had read the label after your cat was poisoned, you’d probably be suing the flower company and the store because the print on the warning was too small!

Here’s another thing: Because animals are considered property, much like cars or computers (I don’t like it, but that’s the way it is right now), even if Boogaloo had died, Gee and Bredahl would only be entitled to the “replacement cost” of the animal -- about $100, the cost of a shelter adoption fee.

If Gee had spent all the hours he’s wasted at his lawyer’s office to do research about how to keep Boogaloo healthy and avoid exposing him to toxic substances from now on, it would have been a much better use of his time.

Maybe Gee's wife should press criminal charges against him for attempted kitty-cide because he brought home that fateful bouquet of lilies.

This lawsuit is dumb at best and downright useless at worst. If it even gets to a hearing, I bet Gee will have spent more money on attorney’s fees than he did on the cat’s treatment.

What do you think? Is Gee’s lawsuit legitimate or frivolous? Have you ever encountered a lawsuit related to cat health and care? How did it turn out? Share your thoughts in the comments.

About JaneA Kelley: Punk-rock cat mom, science nerd, animal shelter volunteer, and all-around geek with a passion for bad puns, intelligent conversation, and role-play adventure games. She gratefully and gracefully accepts her status as chief cat slave for her family of feline bloggers, who have been writing their cat advice column, Paws and Effect, since 2003. JaneA dreams of making a great living out of her love for cats.

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