Earlier today, the Texas Supreme Court issued an opinion refusing to allow noneconomic damages for loss of a pet in a case involving a local municipal shelter. You can read the entire opinion at http://www.supreme.courts.state.tx.us/historical/2013/apr/120047.pdf.
The plaintiffs in the Medlen case argued that a pet owner should be entitled to loss of “intrinsic” value for the sentimental loss of their “property,” much like courts allow for loss of a rare family heirloom. The opinion reasoned that an owner’s attachment to a beloved pet is different than a person’s sentimental feeling for an heirloom. Pets afford “here-and-now benefits”—company, recreation, protection, etc.—unlike a passed-down heirloom kept around chiefly to commemorate past events or passed family members. The court stated that “while no two pets are alike, the emotional attachments a person establishes with each pet cannot be shoe-horned into keepsake-like sentimentality for litigation purposes.”
The AVMA and several other organizations suggested to the court that expanding liability to include emotion-based damages will make pet ownership more expensive and harm access to veterinary care.
Do you agree with the decision in Medlen?