Because of my advanced certification in Theriogenology (reproduction), books I have authored and experiences, I occasionally am retained to evaluate and testify in litigation cases regarding animals. While generally these cases are large animal livestock cases, I occasionally accept a small animal case that appears fairly straight forward. Such was the case with Chung Yun Bi. In hindsight I accepted this case but it soon became apparent it didn’t meet my criteria. I have wondered what I was thinking that day.
I first became acquainted after she called me from California late one afternoon. I barely could understand her because of a heavy accent. Originally I thought she was Vietnamese but ultimately learned she was Chinese. The story was about her cat, Fluffy, who had died while under the care of the staff veterinarians at a veterinary hospital. I recognized the name of the hospital and the lead veterinarian as he had very high profile in veterinary circles on the west coast.
As I interviewed her I learned that there were actually three veterinarians from different veterinary hospitals she was seeking to sue. She had been very specific about Fluffy’s care although she was not specific about what she fed her cat.
I told Chung Yun Bi that for my retainer fee I would read through the medical records and give her an oral report on the medical care of Fluffy. She immediately started complaining about she couldn’t afford my fees. I knew even though she complained that my retainer probably wasn’t much more than she had paid for the high profile veterinarians who treated Fluffy. Finally after much harangue from Chung Yun Bi, I agreed to read and evaluate the records for about half my usual fee.
I asked her, “Do you have an attorney?” I learned a long time ago that an attorney is usually the key person to discuss the case for the legal aspects. In addition the attorney often will act as a buffer between me and the client, especially on small animal cases because these animal owners are much more involved emotionally. They often are difficult to interview about their animal in any case that “had went south.” Chun Yun Bi answered, “No I do not.”
I told her, “I would discuss the case with her after my evaluation of the records but it was important for me to work with her through an attorney.” In this case I had great difficulty understanding her plus it seemed she would be very “high maintenance.”
She sent me the medical records plus a check for the negotiated retainer.
I read through the ~100 pages of records. It was apparent that Fluffy had several major health issues including kidney failure, suspected liver cancer or possibly cirrhosis, a chronic long-term gastrointestinal disease, sinusitis and diabetes — not the least of which the cat was a 17 years old spayed female.
Cats with excellent care often live to be 20 years old but this cat had had too many health issues to expect that — even if it did have nine lives. It was also apparent that Chung Yun Bi was an extremely difficult client. From the hospital records, it was apparent while her cat was hospitalized. She often called the clinic eight times a day. She also spent hours at the hospital visiting Fluffy on her days off from work. Frequently she appeared to be petulant and demanding with the clinic staff. She was banned from calling the clinic. When she wanted to check on her cat, she had to contact the veterinarian by e-mail. That did seem a little over the top but it was apparent there was difficult issues in communicating with Chung Yun Bi. Apparently she had been banished from that clinic prior to taking her cat to another specialty clinic.
Her attorney e-mailed me for an appointment to discuss Chung Yun Bi and her cat. During our conference call from her conversation she was obviously an animal lover. She and I immediately communicated well together as we discussed Fluffy’s case.
The rubber was about to hit the road. The attorney asked, “What do you think? Are those vets guilty of malpractice?” “No, the records don’t appear to validate Chung Yun Bi’s claim.”
I didn’t mince words. “She was a very difficult client that listened poorly to instructions when Fluffy went home. In addition she was very disruptive from the number of calls she made to each of the clinics when they cared for Fluffy.” I also suggested, “If anything the veterinarians might be guilty was a lack of compassion for Chung Yun Bi during her rants about Fluffy’s medical crisis.”
This appeared to be the end of the case but little did I know. Chung Yun Bi called me the following day requesting her money back. I told her my fee was for reading the medical records and giving her an oral report.
A few weeks later a process server arrived on my doorstep with a subpoena to appear in California state court in Los Angeles. I handed the subpoena back to the process server because California state court has no jurisdiction in Ohio. Over the next couple of weeks, two more process servers appeared on my doorstep. Each time I refused to be served because of a lack of jurisdiction.
I didn’t hear more from Chung Yun Bi until receiving a letter from Judge Judy. Her Honor offered to pay for my trip to California including air fare, hotel room, meals and $250 if I agreed to appear in The People’s Court. In addition if I lost, Judge Judy would pay my judgment! What a deal! But, I didn’t go.
The last act that Chung Yun Bi has done is to put my name on a website called “Truthfinders.” Each week it sends a notice to click on the site if the reader wishes to learn about my criminal past — all over a cat that had used up its nine lives.