Cat cafés are a wonderful thing. Cat enthusiasts can enjoy a relaxing hour with the furry felines while sipping on a delicious cup of coffee and snacking on yummy goodies. With all the cat cafés we write about, we’ve come to discover that one of the most common items in every cat café is a list of rules. Now, these rules may vary, but they’re all there to protect cat and customer.
But what happens when a customer is bitten?
Well, if you’re the owner of Denver Cat Company where the incident occurred, you get sued. Back in February 2015, Sue Hodges was bitten by a cat named Morpheus while visiting the establishment. Amanda Jamrogiewicz, Hodges’s daughter, filed the lawsuit against the Colorado-based cat café on her behalf, according to 9NEWS.
“[Morpheus] flipped onto his back when my mom still had her hand out,” Jamrogiewicz told 9NEWS. “When she was going down to continue petting him, he bit her on her hand rather aggressively and wouldn’t let go for at least 15-20 seconds.”
She went on to state that when Hodges was able to get her hand away from the cat that it was bleeding from “about seven or eight different spots.” The injury was treated at the counter. Jamrogiewicz said that after returning home her mother realized the bite was infected and went to urgent care for treatment. The visit cost her $305, 9NEWS reports.
Sana Hamelin, who owns Denver Cat Company, refused to pay the bill when Jamrogiewicz asked her to do so. Her reasoning?
“We wouldn’t be able to survive as a business model if we were opening ourselves up to taking responsibility for a cat’s behavior, because we can’t guarantee that a cat won’t bite or scratch,” Hamelin told 9NEWS. “We just let everyone know [petting] is a risk. If they’re not willing to take that risk, then they shouldn’t pet cats that don’t belong to them. “I don’t think there’s a cat in existence that hasn’t bitten or scratched.”
She also said that there is adequate signage inside the café warning of the risk to petting a cat.
The rescue providing Morpheus and several other cats has since removed the felines from the premises. Hamelin emailed Jamrogiewicz about this act on March 11, stating “Because of your claim, the shelter has terminated its relationship with the café,” according to 9NEWS.
The lawsuit is demanding that Hamelin pay $5,920 in total. Of that amount, $305 is for the medical bills and the remaining $5,615 is for the week of work Hodges missed as well as the emotional stress she experienced. Jamrogiewicz told 9NEWS that her mother missed work due to complications from the antibiotics she was given due to the infection. The emotional stress, Jamrogiewicz said, is due to Hodges being the sole financial provider in her home and from the accusation that it is Hodges’s fault the shelter pulled the cats.
Hamelin did, however, state that she offered to pay half of the $305 medical bill, but that Jamrogiewicz and Hodges refused. Jamrogiewicz stated she countered with the offer that if Hamelin paid the entire amount, then she (Jamrogiewicz) would make a donation of the same amount to a cat rescue. Hamelin turned it down, offering instead to just make the donation herself, 9NEWS reports.
Jamrogiewicz and Hodges refused Hamelin’s offer and filed the $5,920 lawsuit in April. Hamelin was served at the Denver Cat Company last week, with a hearing set for early June.
“I guess a lot of people think this is frivolous, and to us, to be honest, it is too,” Jamrogiewicz told 9NEWS. “She should have just paid the $300.”
Even though she has insurance, Hamelin did not submit the claim. This, she said on the Denver Cat Company Facebook page, is for several reasons.
“One is to keep our premium down. The other is that my insurance indicated they would seek subrogation against my then-partnering shelter’s insurance, because they would consider them ultimately liable. I don’t want this hurting the shelter. Also, my deductible is close to the amount originally claimed so it makes no sense to submit the claim. It’ll come out of my pocket regardless and will likely result in higher premiums to boot.”
If you’re wondering why Hamelin just didn’t settle in the first place, she told 9NEWS that “she didn’t want to create a precedent for others to sue over an issue she clearly warns people about before they walk in.”
What do you think of this lawsuit? Is it frivolous or justified? Let us know in the comments.