Manchester-based The Dog House says a lawsuit singling it out for the purchase of a puppy that went sour is unfair. It claims the dog owner made a bad decision, did not read the fine print, and has only herself to blame.
In an email to the Connecticut Law Tribune, the pet store said it should not “have to spend time, money and resources defending ourselves against ridiculous accusations.”
“The terms of the transaction could not have been more clear. There was a whole page (of the agreement) dedicated to describing the terms,” employee Katie Kelleher wrote on behalf of the business. “It clearly says ‘important information concerning your lease.”’
The dispute stems from a lawsuit by 21-year-old Christina Diskin against the family-owned shop last month. Among other things, Diskin claims the price of the pug-beagle mix was too high, that she paid 100 percent interest under a lease agreement, and that the Dog House misled her about the contract.
“No one told the plaintiff she was signing a lease agreement,” Diskin’s complaint claimed. “No one printed the documents or went over the terms, including the payments, interest rates. … The lease was emailed to her after the transaction.”
Diskin claimed she ended up with a $3,789 lease agreement with the store.
But Kelleher said the information was not hidden, as “it was right on top and called to the customer’s attention.” The contract very clearly states, Kelleher said, “You understand that this agreement is a lease, not a loan and that you are leasing the product(s).”
Mike Conroy, attorney for the Dog House, told the Connecticut Law Tribune Thursday that with regard to the 100 percent interest rate, Diskin is barking up the wrong tree, as that is between her and My Pet Funding, the Virginia-based leasing company.
With regard to the rest of the lawsuit, Conroy said, “Not only is everything spelled out, all of the terms and conditions are spelled out. But there is also a sign at the checkout counter that lays out the basic elements of this financing agreement. As I understand how the process works, for someone to actually make an application, it’s very, very difficult to go through the process and complete the application without understanding the terms she claims were withheld from her.”
Conroy, a partner with Simsbury-based Hassett & George, said it’s the first time in the more than 20 years the Dog House has been in business that it has been sued. “We will fight this lawsuit to the extent necessary,” Conroy said. “The owners of the Dog House are certainly upset as they did nothing wrong.”
Kelleher said the Dog House is well aware leasing is “an expensive option.”
“We tell people that so they can make an informed decision,” she wrote in her email.
Assertions in the lawsuit that the fair market value for puggles is between $300 and $600 are simply not true, Kelleher said. “I don’t know where her lawyer got this fair market value, but it’s entirely inaccurate, especially in Connecticut,” she said.
Kelleher also said Diskin and her attorney should have called the store to discuss the issue, before starting litigation. “She skipped the logical and considerate next step and jumped straight to a lawsuit,” Kelleher said.
Scott Camassar, a partner with North Stonington-based Law Firm of Stephen M. Reck and Scott D. Camassar, represents Diskin. Camassar was out of state handling a deposition Thursday and was not available for comment by press time. Last month, he told the Connecticut Law Tribune that what the Dog House did was “disgusting,” and that the shop had “ripped off” his client.
Matthew Brown of Wiggin & Dana represents the leasing company, My Pet Funding. He did not respond to a request for comment Thursday.