The woman who owned the show horse Thomas wanted to put him down, but the Great American Assurance Co. saved him from the Grim Reaper.
Not in vain. If the vet decided that Thomas needed to be euthanized, the carrier would have to pay $500,000 in insurance.
According to court documents, after Great American stepped in and took Thomas to a clinic owned by a “world-renowned” veterinarian, the horse made a “remarkable” recovery and is now able to live out his days in the green pastures of Kentucky. under the care of the insurer.
The Collegium of the 7th District Court of Appeal rendered a life-affirming decision on tuesday. The court upheld the decision of the US District Court in Southern Indiana that Great American acted within its rights when it took control of Thomas’s medical care and owed nothing under the insurance claim of owner Julie Greenbank.
“Greenbank appears to be of the opinion that, since Thomas was no longer used as a show horse, Great American should have granted permission for the humane destruction of Thomas,” the commission said in a statement. “But we reject this offer because the contract says nothing that Great American should protect the use of Thomas as a show horse.”
In September 2017, Greenbank paid $500,000 for Thomas, an American riding horse aka Awesome at This. She bought an insurance policy from Great American to protect her investment.
The annual premium was $14,250, but insurance could cost more. Greenbank did not purchase loss of use insurance, which would have been paid out if Thomas was no longer performing as a “sport show horse”.
Thomas fell ill in February 2018. A veterinarian who visited his stable in Vanderburgh County, Indiana, diagnosed him with pneumonia. Greenbank did not notify Great American until two and a half months later, although the policy called for “immediate notice” if the horse became ill.
Thomas recovered and returned to training, but in May 2018 he began to cough and began to limp. The vet told Greenbank that Thomas “probably” would have to be euthanized.
Great American intervened and introduced a provision in its policy that allowed the carrier to take over the horse’s medical care at its own expense if the animal’s life was in danger.
The carrier sent Thomas to the Haggyard Equine Medical Institute, a facility in Lexington, Kentucky owned by Dr. Nathan Slovis, a veterinarian described as “world famous” by Great American’s attorneys. Greenbank didn’t mind the transfer of care, the insurer says.
According to court documents, Thomas was close to death when he arrived in Lexington. Veterinarians at Hagyard pumped out pus from the horse’s lungs that had not been detected by his previous caretakers. They learned that his lameness was caused by a condition that caused a bone in his foot to detach from his hoof.
The Haggyard Clinic performed a procedure called a tenotomy to get Thomas back on his feet, over the objections of Greenbank, who feared the operation would deprive her horse of its ability to perform as a show horse.
In pleadings, Great American’s attorneys said that Thomas continues to “amaze” with his recovery. They included a photo (shown above) of a horse grazing peacefully. The insurer said Thomas now lives on a farm owned by the veterinarian who performed the surgery.
“Within a year of the operation, Thomas regained his weight and began trotting, kicking, running and galloping again on the Pine Ridge Farm, where he now resides,” the appeal panel said. “During the verbal argument, Great American shared that Thomas is still alive and doing well.”
The commission rejected Greenbank’s argument that the insurance company should have authorized the “humane destruction” of Thomas.
“In order to protect Thomas from being used as a show horse, Greenbank could request a loss of use policy,” the court said.
The parties also disputed the amount Great American paid under the provision of its policy of up to $10,000 in veterinary care. The decision also upheld the District Court’s decision in favor of the insurer on these issues.
About the photo: This photograph, included in court documents, shows Thomas, also known as “Cool in it”, grazing on a veterinarian’s farm.
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