Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Damages for Injuries for Pets - Part II

About a year ago, I wrote this post about calculating damages for injuries or death of pets. A case published at that time expressed for the first time the Illinois courts' willingness to hear subjective evidence of a pet's value to its owners, rather than just placing an objective value on the life of the pet based upon what its owners paid for it.

The trial court in that case granted the plaintiff $200 for the loss of his dachshund because that was how much a seven-year old dachshund was worth at the time. The appellate court, however, reversed that decision and allowed the plaintiff to demonstrate the personal value of the dog to him by such "proof as the circumstances admit," presumably testimony as to how much the dog would be missed by the plaintiff and his family.

Well, today I found out that Illinois is way behind other parts of the country in this area of the law. I have told you in the past that I subscribe to Westlaw's Headnote of the Day. Every day I get an email containing a headnote from a random case. Here is today's:

In action for loss of dog struck by defendants' automobile, special damages, in addition to value of dog, based on fact that dog had been trained for work in a vaudeville act along with plaintiff and his daughter, were recoverable.
Paguio v. Evening Journal Ass'n, 21 A.2d 667 (N.J. Sup. Ct. 1941)

So, New Jersey has been allowing this type of evidence for nearly 70 years. I haven't read that Paguio case, but I wonder if the plaintiffs were only allowed to recover the money that they paid to train the dog, or were they awarded lost profits for any shows that they missed, etc.? Interesting stuff.

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