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  1. #1
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    Default Canadian Shannon Dueck Sues Oldenburg Verband in Germany Over Defective Horse

    Arthur found this article on Dressage News .com http://www.dressage-news.com/?p=6330

    We were wondering what has come of this lawsuit. When you read the article, it seems like a rather straightforward problem, that could have been resolved several ways early on... without litigation. There did not seem to be any animus in the part of the plaintiff... and the GOV was sort of caught in the middle a bit... how was this resolved... or is it ongoing?



  2. #2
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    Default here is the article - First Noel is by Fürst Heinrich

    First Noel by First Heinrich

    LOXAHATCHEE, Florida, May. 7–Shannon Dueck, an international rider for Canada, has filed a lawsuit in Germany against the Oldenburg Horse Breeding Association seeking a refund for the horse, First Noel, bought at auction a year ago which was later found to have a congenital heart defect.

    The suit was filed in Landgericht Oldenburg and alleges that a veterinary report, including the results of a cardiovascular examination, made available to prospective buyers at the April, 2009, auction in Vechta, Germany, did not show any defects in the 2005 horse. The suit does not claim deception, saying the official veterinary examination at the time may not have discovered the defect in First Noel, bred by Albert Sprehe.



    The Oldenburg Horse Breeding Association said in a statement that as is normal at their auctions, the stallion was examined by auction veterinarian, Dr. Holger Steinmann, three months before the auction and passed the vet. check successfully. While at the Oldenburg facility, the horse was ridden each day by auction riders and was tried out by our customers without any problems.

    “The stallion was insured for eight weeks after the auction, according to the published agreement with the insurance company,” the association said in a statement to dressage-news.com.

    “Shannon decided to geld the stallion before resale altering the horse she bought. During the castration the vets also did not detect a heart murmur what they should have recognized due to the anesthesia.

    “A while after this the gelding was examined again for resale. In the meantime, the eight weeks coverage by the insurance were expired. On the occasion of the second examination the veterinarian found a heart murmur which is, according to the Tierärztliche Hochschule Hannover, a birth defect. This was not noted in the prepurchase examination already as this defect was covered by a membrane so that nobody was able to hear any heart murmur.

    “If we had been aware of this defect before the auction the horse would have never got an allowance to be auctioned. We are very sorry for all the trouble caused and would like to point out that this is not our mistake.”

    Shannon, who has ridden for Canada at the 1997 Pan American Games, 2002 World Equestrian Games and 2003 World Cup Final, said that she bought First Noel as a prospective Grand Prix horse for herself, not for resale.


    Shannon Dueck and her Ayscha competing in South Florida. © 2010 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

    Shannon, who is based in South Florida, is a member of Canada’s funded squad to compete at four major European shows over the next two months in preparation for selection of the official team for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Kentucky.

    She left the horse in Germany to be gelded and by the time he recovered she felt it was too hot to ship him to South Florida.

    “I was arranging his transport home in September of 2009 when I was diagnosed with breast cancer,” she said. “Because of the financial ramifications, etc. I had to sell him.

    “I found a buyer, who vetted him in Germany. He was found to have a heart murmur.

    “The buyer arranged first for an echocardiogram at the same clinic where the horse was initially vetted.

    “They found no reason for the murmur, but it was disturbing enough for all vets involved to arrange to send the horse to the University of Hanover for a two-day stay with a complete cardiac workup by the expert cardiologists there.

    “The cardiologists found a congenital hole in the septum of the heart, and cannot say he is rideable without risk to himself and the rider, but can say, with a very high degree of certainty, that it has been there since birth.”

    Shannon contacted the Oldenburg society in October to ask them to take the horse back as the auction has “warranties against defects, and insurance to cover these occurrences.”

    “There is no doubt that their veterinary examination missed this heart murmur,” she said.

    The Oldenburg society got their lawyers involved, she said, and tried to talk to the previous owner/breeder.

    “I said I was happy to pick out a replacement horse of approximately equal value, but Mr. Sprehe refused to do anything,” she said.

    “After no results, I finally contacted a lawyer in Germany who is an equine expert.

    “He looked at the case and said we had a very strong case. He has been trying to negotiate with the Oldenburg Verband until now, with no positive results.”

    The lawyer finally gave up, she said, and filed court papers last week.

    First Noel is stabled near Vechta until the issue is resolved,



  3. #3
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    Default “The cardiologists found a congenital hole in the septum of the heart"

    The article says the heart defect was congenital… so it could be the result of all sorts of epigenetic factors. But, still, is there any formal tracking of Fürst Heinrich offspring after this rather high profile incident?

    Good dog breeders do all sorts of screening tests and evaluations before breeding. In the horses, we don't seem to do much of any testing for known genetic disorders. That has always been a bit of a concern.



  4. #4
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    you can always find a lawyer to sue someone. this whole case, assuming the facts above are all correct as stated (probably not, but we will assume they are for now) has nothing to do with the Verband as they just represented the horse. Read the auction laws as regards consignment of horses. The e & o insurance for the vet who did the initial work up will end up cutting a check in the end. But actually sounds like this is something that could have been hard to detect anyway--they had to send him off to the University to do a work up by cardiologists to determine if there really was a murmur.

    so it has been there from birth. I have seen these before, not often, and the horse can compete for a long life, or fall over ill tomorrow. Just like it could from something else. you don't get a 100,000 mile warranty when you buy a horse. every professional knows that. sounds like Shannon refuses to assume any degree of risk responsibility. she could have renewed the insurance, but chose not to. she could have obtained a second opinion before initially buying the horse, but again chose not to.

    it is too bad the horse business gets littered with these kinds of cases where buyers think they have zero responsibility. this is a 50/50 business. we live in a world where you can just buy anything and if you don't like it you can just take it back. or sue.



  5. #5
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    I had a filly born with a heart murmur detected at her foal check. Vet said it can close up, re-check within a few days or week (can't remember exact timing), we did and it was gone. So, if a proper foal check was done I would think the defect would have been noted at that time. I would request ALL vet records from foal check on to see if the defect was known about and not disclosed at some point in horse's history. Also, to see if a foal check was done as is standard practice here in the states (not sure what is done in Germany).



  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by khall View Post
    I had a filly born with a heart murmur detected at her foal check. Vet said it can close up, re-check within a few days or week (can't remember exact timing), we did and it was gone. So, if a proper foal check was done I would think the defect would have been noted at that time. I would request ALL vet records from foal check on to see if the defect was known about and not disclosed at some point in horse's history. Also, to see if a foal check was done as is standard practice here in the states (not sure what is done in Germany).
    who checks a foal if they in all respects are healthy? I don't. And I am sure most of the German breeders don't. so what do you do if it didn't close up? put it down? I have known horses competing in the sport with slight heart murmurs. never had a problem. And lots of horses in the sport with excellent vet checks broken down.
    it is obviously a defect that just needs to get considered when putting a value/price on the horse if all else is o.k.



  7. #7
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    So what do we all do now? Stop selling horses? Doubling our prices to include a 2yrs warranty? Then what?



  8. #8
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    I have a foal check done on ALL of my foals born. Ever heard of LFG? You need to know what is going on in those little bodies that will not necessarily show just by looking at them. I have IGG run, heart and lungs listened to, temp taken, eyes looked at, umbilical looked at/palpated, check their palates (ever seen a horse with congenital problems with their palate eat?) All done within their first 12 hours of birth. That is how the vet found my filly's heart murmur, knew it could be a problem if it did not close up, so I knew enough to contact stallion owner on possible issues, but thankfully she ended up fine. For breeders breeding the quality of horses that are selling for what that horse sold for, why would you not do a foal check?



  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kareen View Post
    So what do we all do now? Stop selling horses? Doubling our prices to include a 2yrs warranty? Then what?


    So where would this end? Buyer sues the Verband. Does the Verband then sue the vet who did the auction exam? Or does it sue the consignor? Or the breeder? Should the vet who gelded the horse also be sued?

    It really sounds as though the suit is without merit - despite what her attorney told her, particularly because the lawsuit itself states:

    ...a veterinary report, including the results of a cardiovascular examination, made available to prospective buyers at the April, 2009, auction in Vechta, Germany, did not show any defects in the 2005 horse. The suit does not claim deception, saying the official veterinary examination at the time may not have discovered the defect in First Noel, bred by Albert Sprehe.
    I think her attorney took her for a ride - probably under the assumption that the Verband would settle out of court just to avoid the hassle and expense of a trial.

    And I'm a bit perplexed about the OP's comment regarding Fuerst Heinrich. Is ONE known instance of a heart defect in an FH offspring enough evidence to assume the defect came from him? Is it just POSSIBLE it came from the dam, or maybe was a developmental problem that happened in the womb, with no genetic cause?



  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by khall View Post
    I have a foal check done on ALL of my foals born. Ever heard of LFG? You need to know what is going on in those little bodies that will not necessarily show just by looking at them. I have IGG run, heart and lungs listened to, temp taken, eyes looked at, umbilical looked at/palpated, check their palates (ever seen a horse with congenital problems with their palate eat?) All done within their first 12 hours of birth. That is how the vet found my filly's heart murmur, knew it could be a problem if it did not close up, so I knew enough to contact stallion owner on possible issues, but thankfully she ended up fine. For breeders breeding the quality of horses that are selling for what that horse sold for, why would you not do a foal check?
    Some breeders in Germany breed such large quantities of foals, they aren't going to spend the money to have the vet out for every single one, esp. if it appears healthy and normal. If one goes downhill, they make a determination if it is worth trying to save it. If it isn't a very special foal, they will often let it go - esp. if the "problem" may affect its development, or future soundness, or marketability. I know it sounds a bit hard-hearted, but they tend to regard their horses more as livestock there.



  11. #11
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    I've never had to have a vet out to tell me if a foal was live or not....

    IGG snap tests are easy to administer, and a reasonably knowledgeable breeder can use a stethoscope.

    Jennifer



  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThirdCharm View Post
    I've never had to have a vet out to tell me if a foal was live or not....

    IGG snap tests are easy to administer, and a reasonably knowledgeable breeder can use a stethoscope.


    Yeah, I think even the German farmers can tell if their foal is "live", without calling the vet.



  13. #13
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    But it wasn't just some breeder selling a horse out of their backyard. It was an auction, run by the Verband, that guaranteed health via pre-screening vettings. I think that is a bit of a different situation.
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  14. #14
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    Being a Canadian, we are generally not as sue happy as some other countries because our laws are different and do not reward the same way. But that doesn't mean the case necessarily has merit. However, it could be that someone had previous knowledge of the condition or diligence was not shown in the vet check or there is an expectation of the product use (aka the high price would suggest that they are selling a product of a certain quality and the onus is on them to make sure of that quality). In most cases I think people should insure things they cannot afford to lose but if there was any evidence of prior knowledge or lack of due diligence then the insurance company would probably still go ahead with the law suit (depending on the price of the horse compared to legal fees).
    I doubt the case will mean anything to most sellers in NA but it will be interesting to see if it has merit in court.



  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by stoicfish View Post
    Being a Canadian, we are generally not as sue happy as some other countries because our laws are different and do not reward the same way. But that doesn't mean the case necessarily has merit. However, it could be that someone had previous knowledge of the condition or diligence was not shown in the vet check or there is an expectation of the product use (aka the high price would suggest that they are selling a product of a certain quality and the onus is on them to make sure of that quality). In most cases I think people should insure things they cannot afford to lose but if there was any evidence of prior knowledge or lack of due diligence then the insurance company would probably still go ahead with the law suit (depending on the price of the horse compared to legal fees).
    I doubt the case will mean anything to most sellers in NA but it will be interesting to see if it has merit in court.
    lol, my first reaction was.. She is Canadian and she is suing... then I read she lives in the US... well, something 's rubbed off obviously.

    So, in the meantime, what is happening to the horse. He is in limbo for sure.



  16. #16
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    Ok, so the posters who suggested that:
    A) a prepurchase exam is a guarantee of health and
    B) it is the responsibility of the SELLER to guarantee that the horse is indeed worth what the buyer pays for it....

    How long, exactly, have you been involves in the horse world??

    LOL

    Jennifer



  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThirdCharm View Post
    Ok, so the posters who suggested that:
    A) a prepurchase exam is a guarantee of health and
    B) it is the responsibility of the SELLER to guarantee that the horse is indeed worth what the buyer pays for it....

    How long, exactly, have you been involves in the horse world??

    LOL

    Jennifer
    What poster suggested that?



  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cartier View Post
    The article says the heart defect was congenital… so it could be the result of all sorts of epigenetic factors. But, still, is there any formal tracking of Fürst Heinrich offspring after this rather high profile incident?

    Good dog breeders do all sorts of screening tests and evaluations before breeding. In the horses, we don't seem to do much of any testing for known genetic disorders. That has always been a bit of a concern.
    The better division here is "heritable" and "non-heritable," not "genetic" and "epigenetic." Yes, the latter terms mean different things but the relationship between genes and ontogenetic development is changing all the time, depending on the part of the body you are talking about.

    Yes, a breeder should be concerned about a developmental defect. After all, how many cases of hip dysplasia were blown off as "accidental and unrelated to parentage" before that condition gained the title of heritable?

    I have no idea if this suit will get anywhere, but how can the Verband argue (as some posters have here) that the buyer screwed up by not seeking a second PPE? If this is a normal part of "due diligence" than what would be the purpose of the PPE done under auction auspices? Doesn't it stand to reason that the buyer believed she was gaining the assurance of the breed association that the horses included in that auction had met some minimum standard of quality that the Verband chose?

    And I wouldn't put congenital heart defect and "breaking down" in the same biological category. There are many more known causes of "nurture" involved in trashing the "nature" of a horse's legs than his heart.
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by stoicfish View Post
    However, it could be that someone had previous knowledge of the condition or diligence was not shown in the vet check or there is an expectation of the product use (aka the high price would suggest that they are selling a product of a certain quality and the onus is on them to make sure of that quality).
    This could be what ThirdCharm is referring to.



  20. #20
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    Well, I won't assume that is what ThirdC meant but to reply. Every country has it's own laws but in general....if the condition was known and sold like that, she would have a good case. Or if the tests were not done properly and she could prove that or if the product was advertised with a certain standard associated with it. If I advertise a healthy horse for sale and you buy it only to find that it has pre-exsisting issues, and the terms of the sale were explicit, you could probably have a case. I think most times the horse is not worth the legal effort or the terms are not written down.


    A) a pre-purchase exam is a guarantee of health and
    B) it is the responsibility of the SELLER to guarantee that the horse is indeed worth what the buyer pays for it....
    It isn't so much the horse world as it is the agreement of the purchase. A prepurchase is done to try and ensure a certain level of health at the time of sale. It is not a guarantee of future health but it is a statement of evaluation at the time. If a pre purchase doesn't mean anything, try falsifiing one and see what happens.



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