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Gomez v. Innocent

Court of Appeals of Georgia

November 3, 2014

GOMEZ
v.
INNOCENT

Reconsideration denied December 8, 2014 -- Cert. applied for.

Veterinarian's lien. Gwinnett Superior Court. Before Judge Conner.

McCrimmon & McCrimmon, Lisa L. McCrimmon, Edward W. McCrimmon, for appellant.

Robert N. Levinson, Villard S. Bastien, Jr., for appellee.

McFADDEN, Judge. Andrews, P. J., and Ray, J., concur.

OPINION

McFadden, Judge.

This appeal challenges the trial court's grant of summary judgment to the defendant veterinarian in a dispute over medical bills and boarding costs for a dog. Because there exist no genuine issues of material fact, we affirm.

This is the second appearance of this case in this court. The decision in the first appeal, Gomez v. Innocent, 323 Ga.App. 1 (746 S.E.2d 645) (2013), set forth the following statement of facts and procedural posture.

The facts show that [Josh] Gomez took his dog, Pilot, to PetFirst [Animal Hospital, Inc.] during the late night and early morning hours of August 26 and 27, 2007, because the dog was lethargic and throwing up. [Veterinarian Garry] Innocent diagnosed the dog with a virus that could have killed Pilot if it remained untreated. Innocent gave Gomez an estimate of $1,453.25 for the dog's care. PetFirst required full payment up front, but because Gomez was unable to pay, Innocent agreed to accept $400 for that night's care, and Gomez's then-girlfriend paid the bill. Gomez left the dog for the night, then telephoned on August 27, 2007, when an employee told him he owed an additional $751.25. Neither the employee nor Gomez addressed whether there would be further charges. Gomez paid the $751.25 on August 28, 2007, after getting some of the funds as an advance from his employer. He returned on August 29, 2007, to pick up the dog. After he put the dog in his car, he was told he owed an additional $484.80. He believed that his bill had been satisfied by the prior payment, even though the dog had remained at the facility for an additional day. He neither objected to nor identified any inaccurate charges. Because Gomez was unable to pay the

Page 406

$484.80, Innocent asked him to leave the dog at PetFirst until the bill was paid, and Gomez did. After the dog had been at PetFirst for 20 days, a " Good Samaritan" paid the dog's accrued bill of $972.
Gomez sued, alleging that Innocent and PetFirst breached their contract by refusing to return the dog after he paid the [330 Ga.App. 261] amounts agreed to, but before he paid " additional sums not agreed by the parties in their initial contract." Gomez also claimed unjust enrichment, conversion, and " tortious invasion of plaintiff's rights," and sought damages. Innocent and PetFirst answered and counterclaimed, and then moved for summary judgment, which the trial court denied; they then moved for reconsideration and simultaneously filed an amended summary judgment motion, which the trial court also denied. The trial court additionally denied Gomez's motion for summary judgment.
The case went before a jury on February 13 and 14, 2012, but before the close of Gomez's presentation of the evidence, the trial court announced that it planned to dismiss the case for failure to state a claim. The trial court refused to allow Innocent to testify, refused to allow Gomez to finish presenting his case, and cut short Gomez's proffer. The trial court ...

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