Cats got sick after apartment complex used pesticides on the wrong day
June 30, 2016 8:41 AM   Subscribe

Both of my cats got sick (vomiting/fevers) after my apartment complex had pest control come on June 27 in addition to the regularly scheduled June 20 which I opted out of. What are my options/the law renting in Texas to get them to cover the bill?

I let my apartment complex know what was going on as I was taking my cats to the vet yesterday, but now I have a $1,000 bill because it was possible they had ingested poison and the vet thought the symptoms were fishy enough to warrant an overnight stay and full blood work. I've always opted out of these pest control treatments and have been living there for 16 months. It was quite a shock to find the "we did this" card sitting in my kitchen on Monday.

Advice? I'm going to show the bills to the apartment complex today and see what they say. It seems irrelevant if they were actually poisoned because we had to check.

Obligatory DeeDee Cat and Torrin Goodcat. Vet says they're on the mend with antibiotics and fluids!
posted by OnTheLastCastle to Law & Government (9 answers total)
I live in Austin if that is important. Thanks!
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 8:42 AM on June 30, 2016

Poor kitties! (They're absolutely adorable, btw.) I hope they're feeling better soon. I'd be steaming mad if this happened to me. Don't show them the bill; instead make them a copy and send it along with a strongly worded certified letter telling them that you expect prompt reimbursement for the vet fees. If you have any written documentation showing that you opted out of the June 27th pest control service, include a copy of that too and tell them that you insist on being notified well in advance of any future pest control service appointments so that you can make arrangements to keep your pets safe.

Don't let them bully you or talk you out of being reimbursed. This was total negligence on their part. Take it to small claims court if necessary.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 9:11 AM on June 30, 2016 [4 favorites]

I'd like to ditto LuckySeven~ and double down to add I'd take them to Small Claims court if they refuse to cover the vet bills. I'd go even further to ask the vet if there are any studies about long term effects to exposure to these chemicals and add that info into your certified letter to them and if necessary to the courts.

I'm so glad the cats are doing OK now. <3
posted by CoffeeHikeNapWine at 9:24 AM on June 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

The more documentation you have, the less fight they will put up. Frankly it will be cheaper to settle with you as $1000 is not much money to them, but you have to back up your claim with documentation in order to make them give in more quickly. They likely have liability insurance for their employees' negligence, but this might not even meet that deductible. Not important to you though.

Get a letter from the vet clarifying his assessment of the cats' symptoms and the cause of their illness as related to the pesticide use. Full documentation is important.

It is also important to have record of the dates the pesticides were applied, and that they were applied on a date without warning from the landlord. Write out your statement, date and sign! If at all possible, an additional written signed statement from another tenant could be a way to back up your own statement.

Glad the kitties are ok!
posted by lizbunny at 9:26 AM on June 30, 2016 [2 favorites]

I would also send a copy of the bill and a letter - keep it unemotional and super-professional, sound exactly like the kind of person who doesn't threaten getting a lawyer but just goes and gets one if they have to - as the first volley. They'll either refuse to do anything or make an offer (probably at best half the bill). At that point you can decide if you have the time and energy to deal with small claims, or if it's worth it to you to spend probably $150 on a lawyer to write the same letter but on scarier letterhead, or take their offer.

It's possible they contract to a third party for these services, and you will end up in a hot potato situation trying to pin one or the other down for liability.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:27 AM on June 30, 2016

be prepared that the pest control company will have documentation that says the spray or gel is safe for pets. if that's the case and you don't have proof they were suffering from poisoning, it will likely be very difficult to find relief. when i lived in texas apartments i was told i didn't have the right to refuse the pest control even on the grounds of harm to pets because they were sure (through assurances by the pest control company) that it was all safe. we still locked our pets out of areas where the spraying was happening for a few hours and i would absolutely raise a stink about the lack of warning. just be prepared for the lack of protection for renters in texas to come up when you're trying to get money from them.
posted by nadawi at 9:40 AM on June 30, 2016

So just to clarify, the cats didn't ingest anything bad from the pest control (tests just came back). I guess it was just a bad batch of food that I'm replacing. But since there was the pest stuff, I had to do the testing. Thanks for all the advice! I plan to ask the vet for a letter saying the symptoms were in line with possible poisoning so testing was required.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 10:01 AM on June 30, 2016

oh yeah, i totally get why you checked, why the vet was nervous, why it all happened like it did - i'm just saying in my experience of fighting apartment managers/leasing companies in texas re: pest control and pet health, i don't think they will offer or be forced into paying any of the bill. by all means, write the letters and get the proof, and try to push it, just don't expend any more of your money or a lot of your time on it because you're likely just going to waste that time and money after the initial yes or no from the apartment office.
posted by nadawi at 10:19 AM on June 30, 2016

Find an MSDS or SDS form for the spray they used and see what it says about ingestion or exposure. Couldn't hurt to check. If you find out what the spray was, just google "____ MSDS" or "____ SDS" and it should come up.
posted by Slinga at 11:50 AM on June 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

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