The Vermont Supreme Court is considering the issue, which we’ve repeatedly covered (Dec. 29 and links therein); in a Fox News report, person after person argues that such damages should be available to deter animal cruelty, each of whom disregards the availability of punitive damages for intentional torts. The main effect of such “rights” would be to make pet care largely unaffordable for the poor so that a handful of wealthy pet owners would be able to collect larger damages awards from veterinarians.
Stephanie Mencimer is predictably in favor of more litigation (singling out “Ted Frank and his Overlawyered buddies” for some reason, though there is only one Walter Olson), but her reasoning is unusual. Mencimer tells the tale of her battle with a next-door neighbor pet spa, and complains that there is a shortage of kennels, which, she says, causes sub-par care of dogs. Lawsuits, she concludes, would fix this problem. That she thinks raising the cost of providing a service will solve the problem of a shortage of service providers bespeaks a certain economic illiteracy that perhaps explains her reflexive opposition to liability reform.