Wednesday, November 16, 2011

TX Dog Owners May Sue to Recover the Sentimental Value

I think it's going to have a significant impact on the private sector, particularly veterinarians, kennel owners, even individuals who take care of their neighbors' pets. I mean, for example, on veterinarians, things which would be routine care for a pet, now they have to practice much more defensive medicine," Texas attorney Boudloche said. "The value of a dog has changed in the eye of the law. So, if mistakes happen, the exposure for everybody is much greater."

By David Lee. Courthouse News Service
FORT WORTH (CN) - A Texas appeals court ruled that the owners of a mistakenly euthanized dog can sue to recover the sentimental value of their lost pet, reversing and remanding the ruling of a trial court. The closely reasoned opinion cites more than a century of Texas courts rulings on dogs.

The Court of Appeals for the 2nd District of Texas reinstated Kathryn and Jeremy Medlen's negligence lawsuit against Carla Strickland, a City of Fort Worth animal shelter employee.

According to court filings, their 8-year-old Labrador mix, Avery, escaped from the Medlens' back yard and was picked up by the city's animal control. Jeremy Medlen went to the shelter to bail out Avery, but did not have enough cash in hand to pay the fees. He was told he could return the next day and that a hold-for-owner tag would be placed on Avery's cage, to prevent him from being euthanized. But Avery was killed the next day before the Medlens could pick him up.

The Medlens sued for "sentimental or intrinsic" damages. Strickland objected, saying such damages are not recoverable for the death of a dog. The First Tarrant County Court at Law dismissed for failure to state a claim for damages recognized by law. The court said the Medlens could recover only the market value of the dog. Full story

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Supreme Court skeptical of California's slaughterhouse law

By MICHAEL DOYLE. McClatchy Newspapers

Supreme Court justices carved into California's ban on the commercial slaughter of lame livestock Wednesday, leaving the state law's future in doubt.

In a case that pits state vs. federal power, justices repeatedly suggested that California went too far with protecting animals already regulated by federal law and overseen by the U.S. Agriculture Department.

"California should butt out," Justice Antonin Scalia said at one point.

Although more bluntly phrased than most, Scalia's seeming skepticism toward California's livestock-protection law appeared to be widely shared during the hourlong oral argument. No justice seemed sympathetic to the state's case, and some at times sounded downright impatient.

"I don't see how you can argue that you're not trenching on the scope of the (federal) statute," Justice Sonia Sotomayor told California's deputy attorney general, Susan K. Smith.

Sounding dubious, Sotomayor later suggested that Smith was "not seriously arguing" a particular point, while Scalia said of one of Smith's arguments, "That can't be right."

The California law in question prohibits the slaughter of non-ambulatory pigs, sheep, goats or cattle. These are animals that can't walk, because of disease, injury or other causes. The state law further requires that the downed animals be euthanized.

Federal law bans the slaughter of downed cattle, and the challenge heard Wednesday was to the state provision that covers swine.

Full story at link.

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