In 2009, the Medlen family brought $80 to the veterinarian to get their
dog back. When they arrived, they found out that the vet had accidently
killed their Avery, their pet dog. The dog had been euthanized by accident.
The family is understandably suing over this tragic incident. However,
it appears that any damage award may be limited to next to nothing, because
the dog was not worth anything as "property." In other words,
because the dog had no actual market value, the defense is arguing that
the victims are not entitled to anything. Ridiculous. But that's what
the Texas Supreme Court is contemplating right now.
The lawyers for the veterinarians are skeptical about allowing any damage
award for emotional damage. They argue that it will cause insurance premiums
to skyrocket. One of the justices asked, "Where do we draw the line?
Cats? Fish? Birds?" As a Kansas City, Missouri personal injury attorney,
I believe that there should be no specific "line." Rather, emotional
damage is emotional damage. Let a jury determine if the damage is real
or not, not the legislature. Alas, the bond between a pet and its master
is real and valuable. It's seems unfathomable to me that a veterinarian
or anyone could so negligently kill something of high value to someone
else, and not need to compensate for the loss they caused.