Posts Tagged ‘damages for animal companionship’

Emotional-distress damages for pet injury

Why the courts have properly kept a leash on them:

The article concludes that keeping emotion-based damages out of pet litigation is, ultimately, what is best for pets themselves. Adding new, uncertain liability to pet litigation would cause the price of pet welfare services and products prices to rise. If owners cannot afford to pay these higher costs, then many pets will not get the care they need.

[Phil Goldberg, Stanford Journal of Animal Law & Policy]

Texas rejects animal companionship damages

George Will’s syndicated column today salutes the Texas high court for preserving the traditional common-law rule against damages for animal companionship and sentimental value, thus declining to jump off an emotionally alluring cliff:

Texas’ Supreme Court decided to distinguish between dogs and heirlooms “such as a wedding veil, pistol” — this is Texas — “jewelry, handmade bedspreads and other items going back several generations.”

Noting that the Medlens “find it odd that Texas law would permit sentimental damages for loss of an heirloom but not an Airedale,” [Justice Don] Willett rejoined that it would be even odder if Texans could recover wrongful-death damages for the loss of a Saint Bernard but not for a brother Bernard.

Laconically noting that “the law is no stranger to incongruity,” Willett explained that “permitting sentiment-based damages for destroyed heirloom property portends nothing resembling the vast public-policy impact of allowing such damages in animal-tort cases.”

Torts roundup

  • Chamber of Commerce’s annual survey of which states businesses consider unfair in litigation: where does yours rank? [survey, PoL]
  • “Toothless cootie” in Denver: “Jury Says PI Firm Must Pay Ex-Client $2M for Pressuring Her to Settle Auto Case for Too Little” [ABA Journal, WestWord]
  • “Thoughts on Reporters Reading New Lawsuit Filings” [Jim Dedman]
  • Cruise line, defending lawsuit: no, our ship didn’t pass stranded boat [AP/KATU]
  • Two Harvard lawprofs on why it’s time to get rid of the interference-with-inheritance tort [Juan Antunez, Florida Probate Litigation Blog]
  • New Jersey high court rejects loss-of-pet emotional-distress damages [NJLRA]
  • “An Alternative Explanation for No-Fault’s ‘Demise'” [Nora Engstrom, SSRN]

April 25 roundup

August 18 roundup

  • Tiananmen Square events echo today in acrimonious defamation suit against filmmakers [Boston Globe]
  • Andrew Ferguson disrespectful toward David Kessler’s nanniferous book on obesity policy [Weekly Standard]
  • “Yes, People Dislike The RIAA Because Of Its Actions” [TechDirt]
  • The big difference race makes in medical school admissions [Discriminations, Mark Perry/Carpe Diem]
  • Texting, workplace flirtation and sexual harassment law [Forbes/MSNBC]
  • After real estate firm grabs and uses online pic, photographer finds satisfaction through small claims court [West Seattle Blog h/t @VBalasubramani]
  • Virginia: latest case seeking to open emotional-distress damages for death of pets gets help from former White House counsel Lanny Davis [WaPo, earlier]
  • Brazil police allege that host of true-crime TV series ordered killings to ensure good footage for the show [AP]

Noneconomic damages and pets

George Wallace reports:

Late [July 31], the California Court of Appeal issued its decision in the case of McMahon v. Craig, holding unequivocally that California law does not permit an animal owner to recover damages for his or her emotional distress at the injury or death of an animal caused by negligence, and that there can be no recovery of damages for loss of the companionship of a non-human companion.

The report is first-hand, for it was blogger Wallace who represented the winning side in the case. Congratulations are in order.

Emotional value of lost pets, cont’d

A veterinary malpractice suit aims to overturn Georgia’s adherence to the traditional rule barring damage recovery for intangible pet companionship value. Not that it’s about you-know-what: “Money is not the object here,” says Kathryn Sutton about 13-year-old miniature Schnauzer Marshall. (D.L. Bennett, “Animal rights drive dog lawsuit”, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Sept. 15). Earlier here, here, here, here, here, etc.

“They need to have equal rights”

A snapshot from Massachusetts of the campaign (national in scope) to create rights to sue for intangible damages against veterinarians, motorists, and others judged to have negligently killed a pet. Debra Campanile of Haverhill is on a mission to enact such a law, which, along with provisions for unbounded emotional distress damages, would require punitive damages to be awarded in a sum of at least $2,500. The story does not specify whether the $2,500 would be payable per incident or per actual creature whose life was ended, which could make quite a difference in the case of negligently knocking over Billy’s ant farm. (Laurel J. Sweet, “Push for liability in animal deaths would put….”, Boston Herald, Mar. 10).

Non-economic damages for animals (again)

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.