At its spring meeting, the AVMA Executive Board approved several policy changes to reflect the debate about the appropriate measure of damages in litigation involving animals, as well as strengthen and clarify AVMA policy in this area. There were some slight adjustments to include legal terms of art, such as “fair market value” and address missing issues such as award of punitive damages in cases of criminal or outrageous conduct. AVMA policy continues to recognize economic compensation awarded to make an animal owner economically whole. A new clause acknowledges the awarding of punitive damages when warranted in accordance with a state’s punitive damage law. These are normally awarded to punish or deter conduct such as animal cruelty, and are not available in cases involving simple negligence.
The full text of the revised policy, retitled “Recovery of Monetary Damages in Litigation Involving Animals” is found at http://www.avma.org/issues/policy/compensatory_values.asp.