Tort Law

Is a dead goldfish like a dead dog for damages purposes? State's top court to decide


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Hearing oral arguments last week about a Texas law that provides for “sentimental” damages for the loss of treasured objects, but not living pets, some judges on the state’s top court appeared a bit skeptical, the Associated Press reports.

If such damages were to be applied to the loss of pets, justices wondered aloud, would a dead goldfish be treated in the same manner as a dead dog?

Plaintiffs Jeremy and Kathryn Medlen of Fort Worth filed the suit after their dog was mistakenly euthanized by an animal shelter in 2009. However, the shelter points out that damages for emotional distress are rarely, if ever, awarded over the loss of a pet anywhere in the country. As detailed in earlier ABAJournal.com posts, pets are traditionally treated as property of minimal dollar value unless they have a high value as breeding stock or show animals.

Tell us in the comments what you think of “sentimental” damages expanding to include pets.

Earlier coverage:

ABA Journal: “How Much Is That Doggie in the Window? Texas Courts Weigh Pets’ Sentimental Value”

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