The Pet Tree House - Where Pets Are Family Too : A Customer is Suing the Denver Cat Company After She Says a Cat Bit Her Hand, and the Bite Got Infected

Thursday, June 11, 2015

A Customer is Suing the Denver Cat Company After She Says a Cat Bit Her Hand, and the Bite Got Infected

Denver, Colorado -  Amanda Jamrogiewicz filed the lawsuit on behalf of her mother, Sue Hodges. The two claim they visited the cat cafe back in February and a cat named "Morpheus" bit Hodges.

"[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."

"When she finally got her hand away it was bleeding in about 7 or 8 different spots," she said.

Jamrogiewicz said her mother was treated for the bite at the counter. But after she got home, she realized it was infected.

She went to an urgent care clinic for treatment and was charged $305. She asked the café to pay the medical bill, but the owner, Sana Hamelin, wouldn't agree to it.

The suit demands $5,920 for the $305 in medical bills plus missed work and the emotional toll for the entire endeavor.

"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 said.

Hamelin said she did offer to pay part of the bill, but admits people get adequate warning about how unpredictable cats are with signs warning people to "pet at their own risk."

"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," she said. "I don't think there's a cat in existence that hasn't bitten or scratched."

Jamrogiewicz said her mother missed a week of work because of the infected bite and complications from an antibiotic she was prescribed. She said her mother is the sole provider for the household after her father went on disability because of a brain tumor.

"They're under a lot of financial stress," Jamrogiewicz said. She claims the missed work hurt her parents' finances even more.

She said the day of the bite, Hamelin asked if it was Morpheus who bit her mother. Jamrogiewicz claims Hamelin knew he was a dangerous cat and should have been removed from the café.

However, Hamelin told 9NEWS Morpheus was one of the most popular cats in her shop.

"He was here for a long time and was very popular with our customers and managed to interact with a lot of people," Hamelin said.

Hamelin says after Jamrogiewicz and her mother started asking for compensation for the bite, she told the rescue that provided the cats for the café. That rescue then decided to pull all of their felines from the café for risk.

"Because of your claim, the shelter has terminated its relationship with the café," Hamelin wrote in an email to Hodges on March 11.

Jamrogiewicz said Hamelin is blaming her mother for losing that rescue, and the accusation is causing emotional stress.

Hamelin said she agreed to pay more than half of Hodges' medical bills in the beginning, but the family refused to agree to that settlement demanding the entire total.

Jamrogiewicz offered another settlement to Hamelin: if the shop paid her mother's medical bills, Jamrogiewicz would make a donation to a cat rescue for the same amount.

Hamelin turned that settlement down and instead offered to make the donation herself in lieu of paying the medical bills.

Jamrogiewicz and her mother refused and filed the $6,000 lawsuit in early April. Hamelin was served last week.

"I guess a lot of people think this is frivolous, and to us, to be honest, it is too," Jamrogiewicz said. "She should have just paid the $300."

Hamelin said she could have just submitted the claim to her insurance, but it was already close enough to the deductible. Also, she worried about her insurance rates going up.

She also said she didn't want to create a precedent for others to sue over an issue she clearly warns people about before they walk in.

"I'm just a solitary person trying to do this by myself so it's tough to be sued when you're not a big corporation," she said "We're not rolling in money here."

The case is due for a hearing in early June.

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