A Denver woman whose dog was run over and killed while her home was being cleaned by a maid service has won her lawsuit against the cleaning company.
Robin Lohre sued for negligence and emotional distress, claiming that the maid service allowed her dog to be hit by a car and then left her dog to die alone underneath a dining room table.
The judge ruled in favor of Lohre and awarded her just over $65,000 for the death of her 18-month-old dog, Ruthie. The judge found the Denver-based cleaning company, Posh Maids, responsible for the dog's negligent death.
This could be the largest court judgment for the death of a pet in Colorado, said Lohre's attorneys with the Animal Law Center.
"The ruling sets a damages precedent that animals are worth more than their replacement value," said Jennifer Edwards, attorney and founder of The Animal Law Center. "When we lose a pet, we do suffer emotional distress and heartache, just as we would with any other member of our families."
"I am pleased with the courts decision," said Lohre. "It doesnt bring back Ruthie, but it does acknowledge the loss that my daughter and I experienced."
Lohre said Ruthie was like a younger sister to her daughter, Imogene.
"She was just a constant source of joy and love and silliness," she said.
Lohre said she hired Posh Maids for a three-hour cleaning of her home on Aug. 17. When a worker arrived, Lohre asked if it would be OK if the family dog, Ruthie, remained in the home while the worker cleaned.
The maid said the dog could stay, even after Lohre offered to take Ruthie with her, according to Lohre's attorney.
Before she left, Lohre said she instructed the employee that the dog should not be let out of the house and if the worker needed to leave the house before Lohre returned, she would have to exit the back door, which opens to an enclosed mudroom with an external door.
Lohre explained that if Ruthie were to follow the maid through the back door, the maid could put Ruthie back into the house, close the door and leave through the mudroom.
Lohre left to run errands with her 6-year-old daughter, and about 2 1/2 hours later, she received a call from the owner of Posh Maids, telling her that the cleaning was complete ahead of schedule because additional Posh Maid employees had arrived at the home to help.
When Lohre and her daughter returned to the home, they found Ruthie dead underneath their dining room table. When she called Posh Maids, Lohre was told that Ruthie had been struck by a car and then ran back home.
The maids claimed that at the time they left, the dog was alive and "whimpering a little."
The employees never attempted to report the accident to Lohre or take the dog to an emergency vet, according to the Animal Law Center.
"The most egregious aspect of this case is that the employees left Ruthie to suffer and die alone underneath a table and did nothing to inform Lohre or take the dog to a vet," Edwards said.
Edwards said Lohre gave specific instructions that would have prevented what this maid service said happened.
Last October, the owner of the maid service told 7NEWS she was trying to get a hold of Lohre when she returned to the home and that is why a vet wasn't notified. She said after the dog was hit by the car, it ran back into the house, crawled under the dining room table and growled at the maids when they tried to approach it.
"That's when I made the decision to have the maids leave the house because, if we ever have an aggressive dog situation, then we ask them to leave the house," Posh Maids owner Miranda Pallone said at the time.
Pallone said Lohre wrote a letter to her asking for $25,000. Pallone said that much money could put her out of business.
"So, I offered her $2,000. My lawyer advised against me offering that to her, but I did offer it to her and it wasn't enough, so here we are," Pallone said, when the lawsuit was announced.
Lohre said Pallone is not telling the truth.
"My phone records indicate that she did not call me (after the accident) and I had to call her," Lohre said.
When asked if Pallone offered to settle the case, Lohre said, "No, she did not."
The homeowner said Pallone failed to take responsibility for Ruthie's death and for the lawsuit.
"She didn't show up for the court hearings," Lohre said. "She ignored the lawsuit."
The judge entered a default judgement against Pallone in the amount of $65,118 plus interest.
When 7NEWS contacted Pallone to ask why she failed to appear, reporter Lance Hernandez was told, "No comment."
Edwards said she and her client will now seek to have the judgement enforced.
"It wasn't really about the money," Lohre said. "It was about taking responsibility."
Copyright Report a typo or inaccuracyIf you have a news tip or a follow-up to this story, e-mail us.Copyright 2012 by TheDenverChannel.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.