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Holistic Vet Loses Suit Over Tufts Lecture and Dead Horse

(CN) - A veterinarian who did not pay Tufts University for hospitalizing her cancer-riddled horse cannot sue after the school barred her from attending an on-campus lecture, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled.

After diagnosing her horse Champ with squamous cell carcinoma in 1997, Margo Roman tried unsuccessfully to treat the animal with her brand of alternative therapies. Champ's eyelid became infected in January 2004, so she took him to a Tufts veterinary opthamologist for surgical removal of the eye.

Concerned with Roman's holistic treatment of Champ, however, the staff at Tufts wanted to put the horse down. Roman rejected the recommendation, removed Champ from the hospital and never paid her bill.

By December, the school warned Roman that the debt would keep her from seeking "any medical or other services through the school," including veterinary treatment and continuing education.

In addition to her deference to herbal remedies, Roman also advocates putting animals on a raw food diet in which food is uncooked and unprocessed. When she learned that Tufts was holding a lecture in May 2005 titled "Dangers of Feeding Your Pet a Raw Diet," she tried to attend.

A Tufts administrator blocked Roman at the door and directed campus security to arrest her unless she left the building.

Roman left and then sued Tufts for violating her constitutional rights, defamation, breach of contract, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligently treating Champ.

The Superior Court Department sided with Tufts on summary judgment, and the Supreme Judicial Court affirmed Wednesday.

"Our conclusion that Tufts excluded Roman on a permissible basis necessarily forecloses Roman's claim that any asserted speech right was 'interfered with' for purposes under the (Civil Rights Act)," Justice Fernande Duffly wrote for the court.

The five-jude panel also ruled that the Tufts medical staff was not negligent it its treatment of Champ.

"She has failed to establish any harm," Duffly wrote. "Roman remained free to, and did, take Champ to another veterinarian to pursue the course of treatment she believed most appropriate."

Roman's complaint states that another veterinarian removed Champ's eye in May 2004 and that the horse died in July 2006.

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