Punitive Damages Sought for Lost Dog Semen

Photo by Michael Dellagrazie via AP.

COLUMBUS, Ohio (CN) — Seven dog breeders filed a class action against a canine semen bank, claiming it negligently allowed their expensive goods to be ruined.

Jennifer Scott et al. claim the Canine Semen Bank of Columbus fraudulently induced them to let it store their purebred dogs’ semen, but let liquid nitrogen evaporate from containers, resulting in the “total destruction of plaintiffs’ and other class members’ canine semen specimens.”

Seeking punitive damages in Franklin County Court, the breeders say the defendants hold themselves out “as experts on frozen canine semen storage,” with a state of the art facility “to provide breeder access to high quality frozen canine semen preservation and on-site semen storage,” but “failed to take adequate steps to ensure the safe, long-term storage of plaintiffs’ and other class members’ frozen canine semen specimens.”

Professional dog breeders use artificial insemination when “natural methods of breeding do not take or are not feasible given the distance between sire and dame (both nationally and internationally) or scheduling issues,” according to the 25-page complaint.

Frozen semen is also necessary when breeders want “to ensure continuation of the breeding line once the dog has passed away, been neutered or reached to age where motility of the semen is of an insufficient percentage to achieve fertilization.”

Defendants include the Beechwold Veterinary Hospital, which operates at the same address and the Canine Semen Bank, and veterinarians Mark McCloskey and Erik Weisgerber.

Canine semen is stored in liquid nitrogen tanks, which “are typically equipped with alarms, and protocols are put in place to ensure tanks are regularly monitored and as necessary refilled with liquid nitrogen.”

But the breeders say the defendants failed to install alarms and/or failed to check on the liquid nitrogen levels.

A single collection of semen can be used to produce several litters of puppies. Among other failings, the breeders say, the defendants “negligently elected to store all breeding units collected from the same dog in a single tank, rather than seeding the semen across multiple tanks, thus ensuring the total destruction of all semen specimens from a single dog.”

They also claim the defendants failed or delayed to inform them of the loss, sometimes for several months.

Plaintiff David Musto, who breeds and shows Cane Corsos, says lost the semen of a champion from Italy after he paid a $10,000 leasing fee “to receive exclusive breeding and freezing rights to Dante in the United States.”

Musto also paid to have the dog shipped to the US and to be confirmed by the AKC. He had the defendants collect the dog’s semen, after which he had it shipped back to Italy. The semen collected should have been enough for ten litters, he says, but defendants stored all specimens in one tank, and all were destroyed.

The breeders say the lost semen “impaired, and in many cases entirely eliminated, plaintiffs’ ability to breed the dogs whose semen was stored in defendants’ facility, causing the loss of thousands of dollars in revenue from breeding, but also the loss of their dogs’ genetic lineage.”

The breeders seek class certification, damages for breach of contract and fraudulent inducement, and an injunction ordering the defendants to improve their equipment, safeguards and procedures.

They are represented by Jeffrey Lipps with Carpenter, Lipps & Leland.

The defendants did not reply to requests for comments.

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