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Loss of Consortium when Fido is killed?



When one loses a pet through another's negligence, should one be able to claim loss of consortium (companionship)? An Oregon attorney is fighting to establish this right in a case summarized on law.com [free registration required]. In that case, a judge threw out a $1.6 million claim for loss of consortium after a pet dog was intentionally killed by a neighbor. [Intentional infliction of emotional distress and punitive damages were allowed, but not "loss of consortium", reserved in most states to spouses and in some states extended to cases for loss of a child.] The case is on appeal.

In a quote the implications of which for both the English language and the Rule of law are telling, Chicago attorney Amy Beyer, "who mostly handles animal law cases", is rooting for the Oregon case to chart a new path. Beyer observed, "Historically, courts have undervalued, if not completely unvalued, the lives of anybody who isn't human." She then added, plaintively, "I hope [the Oregon attorney] makes some headway because most days I feel I'm just banging my head up against the wall trying to make some progress. Courts are very reluctant to do anything that a previous court hasn't done."

 

 


Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy
rmangual@manhattan-institute.org

Katherine Lazarski
Manhattan Institute
klazarski@manhattan-institute.org

 

Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.