On January 20, 2022, William “Chip” Watkins, an award winning professional speed boat racer, filed a class action consumer fraud complaint against a Long Island veterinarian and her hospital for killing his dog Taro, entitled William Watkins v. Patchogue Animal Hospital and Eva Armfield, DVM in New York Supreme Court, Suffolk County, Index #601102/2022. Click here to see the Complaint.
Immediately after the complaint was filed and the NY Post published a story yesterday ” LI veterinary hospital had unlicensed staff perform high-risk procedures: suit “, Defendants removed their fake staff page from their website– but a little too late as they had it up for years.
VETERINARIAN CONSUMER FRAUD
The complaint alleges defendants defraud consumers by advertising they employ vet technicians when they do not, and Watkins dog Taro died as a result of defendants neglect.
New York’s Education Law, Article 135 §6708, mandates veterinarians employ licensed vet technicians to perform certain procedures. Instead, defendants paid minimum wage to young 20-year old secretaries to perform those procedures, including dentals while animals were under anesthesia, monitor vitals and dispense medications, in addition to being forced to rake leaves on Dr. Armfield’s lawn and baby-sit her children during work hours, says the complaint.
“Dr. Armfield was too cheap to pay for licensed vet techs as required by law, causing companion animals to suffer and die and destroying their owner’s lives, whom she also billed for her unlawful operation that should be shut down,” says Susan Chana Lask, the attorney for Watkins.
Watkins nightmare started on June 12, 2020 when he took his beloved Taro, an 8 year old female blue-nose terrier, to Armfield after seeing her website advertising vet techs on staff.
The complaint alleges that Armfield diagnosed Taro with an ear infection, then inexplicably prescribed a heavy sedative cocktail of 600mg of Gabapentin and 300mg of Trazodone to be taken for all future visits, creating a heart condition for Taro that Armfield failed to diagnose and treat, according to an opinion letter of an unrelated vet attached to the complaint.
By August 20, 2020, after an hour with Dr. Armfield, Taro ’s paralyzed body was carried out by two females acting as vet techs, who threw Taro in to Watkins car and told him to take her home, the complaint says. The complaint says Armfield’s medical records that day omit any listing of Taro’s vitals and Dr. Armfield refused to triage Taro, take x-rays or an ultrasound or provide Watkins with a specialist to take the near lifeless Taro to be examined as required by state law.
Taro died the next day at another hospital when an ultrasound revealed her heart condition that Dr. Armfield failed to diagnose and treat while continuing to over-sedate Taro, the complaint alleges.
“Taro went in for an ear infection, and Dr. Armfield returned her to me paralyzed, then refused to help me or Taro until Taro died. My best friend is dead, and I’m forever heart-broken because of Armfield’s horrendous mistreatment,” says Watkins
The complaint exhibits include a February 28, 2021 notarized letter from Armfield’s ex-employee, Cecile Meyer, stating that Armfield never used licensed vet technicians and forced untrained secretaries to do vet tech work, and a text from Barry Davis to Watkins informing his dog was killed at Armfield’s hospital by an overdose of anesthesia, likely due to Armfield not using licensed vet techs to monitor that surgery, the complaint alleges.
Exhibit B to the complaint is from Dr. Dym, an unrelated veterinarian, who confirms that:
“Dr. Eva Armfield of Patchogue Animal Hospital used a medically inappropriate… high dose combination sedative… as well as failed to recognize and adequately evaluate Taro on multiple opportunities following the severe reaction to the combination sedatives,”
“Because of these delays in timely diagnosis and treatment, Taro not only suffered needlessly, but lost any chance at emergency stabilization attempts that could have saved her life.”