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Maid company owner being sued for death of dog found under table says fault is shared

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Last week, attorney Jennifer Edwards and Talulah Jones owner Robin Lohre told us about a lawsuit filed against the Posh Maids service. The reason: Lohre found her dog, Ruthie, dead under her dining-room table after her house was cleaned. But Posh Maids owner Miranda Pallone feels that version isn't wholly accurate. In her view, her company's representatives did the best they could in the face of a tragic event and don't deserve all the blame. Pallone stresses that Posh Maids is a locally owned small business that strives to operate in a first-class way. She emphasizes that the firm is 100 percent green, using only nontoxic cleaning products -- and to add a touch of class, housecleaners offer complimentary flowers and chocolates following each visit. And in their interactions with Lohre, she says, "I truly believe in my heart of hearts that my employees acted responsibly, and the company acted responsibly -- that we all acted as humanely as possible."

According to Lohre, she used a coupon to purchase a three-hour cleaning. She also says she asked the maid who arrived at her home around 10 a.m. on a morning in August if she should take Ruthie with her, or if she could stay. After being told Ruthie would be fine sticking around, Lohre gave instructions about what door to use to prevent her from bolting outside. Then, at 12:22 p.m., Lohre reports receiving a call from the maid saying she'd finished early because another staffer had arrived to give her a hand. About forty minutes later, Lohre returned with her young daughter to find Ruthie under the table, dead.

In response, Pallone says, "Those timelines are incorrect. We called her at 12:22 because we did a courtesy check to let her know we'd be finishing at one o'clock, and to let her know we wouldn't be able to get to her basement by then. So we asked if she wanted to purchase more time, and she said, 'No.' Then, at around one o'clock, as the girls were locking up to leave, the dog slipped out of the house. They called me immediately, and I was on the phone with them as they were trying to get it back inside. It was frolicking in the yard, but it's a pretty busy street, and it ran out and was hit by a car. I heard everything -- and the driver didn't stop. He just drove off."

After Ruthie was struck, Pallone continues, "she ran back into the house. She seemed alive and well; there was no blood, no broken legs. She ran under the table and was growling and barking at them -- she wouldn't let the maids approach. It was an unstable situation, and I didn't want them to be bit, so I advised them to leave -- because what else could they do at that point? I told them, 'I'll contact the client, and if the client can't get there, I'll get in my car and go there myself.'"

By Pallone's reckoning, this exchange took place at 1:07 p.m. Afterward, she called the training maid, part of Posh Maids' management structure, to make sure she had the facts straight. "Then, at 1:14 p.m., I got in touch with the client," she goes on. "She'd already arrived home, and she found the dog. So within seven minutes, the dog passed away." During her conversation with Lohre, Pallone recalls, "I apologized a million times, and I called her multiple times in the afternoon and evening to check in to see how she was doing, and to see if there was anything we could do to help." She says she subsequently made an offer of compensation for what happened, but Lohre and her attorney "wrote me a letter demanding an astronomical amount." Pallone responded with another proposal, "but she didn't take it."

The next thing Pallone knew, Lohre and Edwards were speaking to the media about a lawsuit against Posh Maids. But to her knowledge, the complaint has yet to be formally filed -- "I haven't been served," she stresses. And she feels the portrait painted of her and Posh Maids is unduly harsh.

"We have a secure-your-pets policy, where you need to secure your pets," she allows. "So she should have had her dog locked up. And the amount of time she spent talking about what door to use and things like that tells me she knew the dog was a flight risk." With that in mind, Pallone thinks the fault for what happened can be divided up three ways -- "33 percent for the driver, 33 percent for us and 33 percent for the client.

"If she's going to take me to court, that's when we'll figure out who's liable," she says. "But I don't think it's right to make our company look neglectful. The dog was alive and running around when we left the client's house" -- the reason no call was made to an animal emergency service -- "and we were in constant contact with her.

"We're all animal lovers at this company," she adds. "We love pets, and we've done a lot of charity work for them in the past, and we'll certainly continue to do that. This was just a tragic accident."

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