Pet Damages: Related Cases

Case namesort descending Citation Summary
Viilo v. City of Milwaukee 552 F. Supp. 2d 826 (E.D. Wis. 2008) The court in this case denied summary judgement for the defendant after two police officers shot plaintiff’s dog four times which ultimately resulted in the dog’s death. The court denied summary judgment because it believed that there was a question as to a material fact of the case. The material fact in this case was whether or not the officers reasonably feared for their lives when the dog was shot the third and fourth time. After the dog was injured from the first two shots, there was inconsistent testimony as to whether the dog was still acting in an aggressive manner, which may have warranted the third and fourth shots. Due to the inconsistent testimony, the court held that a ruling of summary judgment was not appropriate. Defendants' motion for summary judgment was granted as to all claims except the claim that the third and fourth shots constituted an illegal seizure.
Volosen v. State 227 S.W.3d 77 (Tx.Crim.App. 2007)

The appellant/defendant mauled a miniature dachshund to death after the dog entered a yard where the appellant kept his chickens. The State of Texas prosecuted the appellant/defendant for cruelty to animals on the ground that the appellant/defendant killed the dog without legal authority. The appellant/defendant, however, argued that section 822.033 of the Texas Health and Safety Code, an entirely different statute, provided that authority. After the appeals court reversed the district court’s decision to convict the defendant/appellant, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals found that the appellant/defendant had failed to meet his burden of production to show the applicability of his claimed defense and thus reversed the court of appeals’ judgment and remand the case back to that court.

Vosburgh v. Kimball 285 A.2d 766 (Vt. 1971)

This case involves an action by a dog owner against farmer for wrongfully impounding dogs and against town constable for wrongfully killing the dogs.  The Vermont Supreme Court held that farmer had acted in a reasonable and prudent manner by contacting the constable, where he never intended to "impound" the dogs when he secured them overnight in his barn after finding them in pursuit of his injured cows.  However, the issue of whether the dogs were wearing a collar as required by state law precluded the granting of a directed verdict for the constable.  (Under state law, a constable was authorized to kill dogs not registered or wearing a prescribed collar.)  The court held that it was necessary for the jury to make this determination.

Warboys v. Proulx 303 F.Supp.2d 111 (D. Conn. 2004)

Pitbull owner filed suit seeking compensatory damages arising from the shotting and killing of his dog by police.  Defendants removed the action based on federal question jurisdiction and moved for summary judgment, and the dog owner moved to amend the complaint.  Motions granted.

Webber v. Patton 558 P.2d 130 (Kan. 1976)

Veterinary costs and consequential losses are also allowed in determining damages, according this Kansas case. It should be noted that the animal at issue here was a domestic pig versus a companion animal, and the award of damages was secured by a statute that allows recovery for all damages for attacks on domestic animals by dogs.

Wells v. Brown 217 P.2d 995 (Cal.App.4.Dist. 1950)

In this California case, damages were assessed beyond the purchase price of a dog involved in a hit and run case where the defendant negligently ran over and killed a 15 month old pure-bred Waeimaraner. After the defendant ran over the dog, he shot the dog and buried it. The next morning he contacted the veterinarian listed on the collar, as well as the owner of the dog. The court upheld the jury verdict of $1,500 since the purchase price was determined to not reflect the market value at the time of the dog’s death.

WERTMAN v. TIPPING 166 So.2d 666 (Fla.App., 1964)

The plaintiffs, owners of a seven-year-old trained, registered full blood German Shepherd dog, sued the defendants for the loss of this dog from the kennels at the animal hospital owned and operated by the defendant. The dog had been boarded at defendant's place and while there escaped from the kennel and was never found. This case set the wheels in motion for companion animals damages in Florida when the court affirmed a verdict of $1000, for a purebred dog. The court declined in only applying the fair market value and held that recovery could include special or pecuniary value to the owner.

WILCOX v. BUTT'S DRUG STORES, Inc. 35 P.2d 978 (N.M. 1934)

In Wilcox v. Butt’s Drug Stores , plaintiff came into pharmacy to purchase her usual laxative for her show dogs when pharmacist recommended a different brand that ended up killing one of the dogs. The New Mexico Supreme Court held that although sentimental value was not appropriate when calculating the dog’s value, it found recovery not to be limited to market value. Factors such as breed, special qualities, and purchase price were looked at to determine value.

Williams v. McMahan 2002 WL 242538 (Wa. 2002)

The plaintiff sued for damages as a result of the wrongful spaying of her purebred dog, which she intended to breed. The court found that damages should be measured by the fair market value of the dog.

Williams v. Neutercorp (Unpublished) 1995 Tex. App. LEXIS 833 (Tex Ct. App. Apr. 20, 1995).

Appellant sought review of the order from the County Court dismissing appellant's lawsuit after it sustained the special exception filed by appellee company, appellee animal hospital, and appellee veterinarian in appellant's suit which alleged negligence and violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices-Consumer Protection Act, Tex. Bus. & Com. Code Ann. § 17.50.  The special execption is that the Veterinary Licensing Act, Tex. Rev. Civ. Stat. Ann. art. 8890, 18C, expressly provided that the DTPA did not apply in veterinary malpractice cases.The court affirmed the lower court's order dismissing appellant's suit against appellees because the lower court did not abuse its discretion by dismissing appellant's pleadings with prejudice, after the lower court sustained the special exception regarding the Deceptive Trade Practices-Consumer Protection Act, and after appellant refused to amend her pleading.

Williams v. Spinola 622 P.2d 322 (Or.App., 1981)

Defendant appeals from a judgment entered on a jury verdict awarding plaintiff $3,600 in compensatory and $4,000 in punitive damages for the unlawful killing of plaintiff's dogs. Defendant contended at trial that the dogs were trying molest her sheep. With regard to defendant's claim on appeal that punitive damages were not appropriate in this case, the court agreed that the issue should not have been submitted to the jury. The court affirmed the jury's finding with regard to denial of defendant's directed verdict, and reversed the award of punitive damages.

Wilson v. City of Eagan 297 N.W.2d 146 (Minn., 1980)

At issue is an Eagan, Minnesota ordinance that provides an impounded animal must be held for five days before being destroyed.  In direct contravention of the ordinance and statute, Eagan animal warden Cary Larson and police officer Robert O'Brien, in performance of their duties, intentionally killed Timothy Wilson's pet cat on the same day it was properly impounded.  By first finding that punitive damages were not precluded by statute against municipal employees, the court then examined whether punitive damages were appropriate in this case.  While the court did not find that Larson acted with malice, it did find that his conduct in violating the statute showed a willful disregard for property rights. 

Winingham v. Anheuser-Busch, Inc. 859 F.Supp. 1019 (1994)

Ostrich owners sued to recover actual and exemplary damages, attorney fees, costs and interests for gross negligence after an airship flew over their property at  low altitude, which frightened interfered with the ostriches’ breeding. The District Court held that: (1) allegations of fright and temporary loss of libido failed to allege compensable injury absent proof of physical injury; and (2) owners were not entitled to recover speculative value of unborn offspring; and (3) absent actual damages, exemplary damages could not be awarded.

Womack v. Von Rardon 135 P.3d 542 (Wash. 2006)

In this Washington case, a cat owner sued a minor and his parents after the minor set her cat on fire.  While this Court found that the trial court correctly granted summary judgment with respect to Ms. Womack's private nuisance, tort outrage, and statutory waste claims, it held that the lower court incorrectly calculated the measure of damages.  Noting that the Division 2 Appellate Court left open the question of emotional distress damages where a pet has been maliciously injured in Pickford v. Masion , 124 Wash.App. 257, 262-63, 98 P.3d 1232 (2004), this Court held that the general allegations include sufficient facts to find both malicious conduct toward Ms. Womack's pet and her resulting emotional distress.  Thus, "[f]or the first time in Washington, we hold malicious injury to a pet can support a claim for, and be considered a factor in measuring a person's emotional distress damages."  

WRIGHT v. CLARK 50 Vt. 130 (1877)

Defendant shot plaintiff’s hunting dog, and plaintiff sued for trespass. The dog was shot while in pursuit of a fox. Defendant shot at the fox, but accidentally hit the dog. The court held that, because the shooting was a voluntary act, he was liable for exemplary damages for “intentionally or wantonly” shooting the dog.

Xu v. Chen 2008 CarswellBC 1693

The Claimant's six-month old sheltie puppy, "Diamond,” suffered a serious limb injury outside the front yard of the family home. Claimant seeks to recover the veterinarian costs she incurred to treat the dog's injury against Defendants, the owners of the other dog that allegedly attacked claimant’s dog. The court found that there was evidence that Defendant was previously contacted by Animal Control as well as a neighbor about an incident where Angus lunged at another dog. The Claimant has established, on a balance of probabilities, that Angus had manifested a propensity to cause the type of harm occasioned that night. Claimant was 25% liable for the incident where she left Diamond in an unfenced yard that gave other dogs access. The court denied Xu’s claim of $5500 for future medical costs for the care of Diamond because there was no evidence what these would be and the dog was currently living with another family.

Young's Bus Lines v. Redmon 43 S.W.2d 266 (Tex. 1931)

Appellee blind newspaper vendor had a trained seeing eye dog that was run over and killed by a public bus, driven by appellant. The court held that the measure of damages was the market value of the dog at the time and place where it was killed. If the dog had no market value, then the intrinsic or actual value to appellee was the measure of damages.

Zeid v. Pearce 953 S.W.2d 368 (Tex.App.-El Paso, 1997)

Richard and Susan Zeid appeal from the trial court's order dismissing their lawsuit against Dr. William Pearce, d/b/a Coronado Animal Clinic, for veterinary malpractice after the dog suffered from allergic reactions resulting from alleged negligent vaccinations.  The court observed that, in Texas, the recovery for the death of a dog is the dog's market value, if any, or some special or pecuniary value to the owner that may be ascertained by reference to the dog's usefulness or services.  Consequently, the court found this longstanding Texas rule to be inconsistent with the Zeids' claim for pain and suffering and mental anguish.  Because the Zeids did not plead for damages for the loss of their dog that are recoverable in Texas, the trial court did not err in sustaining Dr. Pearce's special exception and dismissing their cause of action.

ZENIER v. SPOKANE INTERNATIONAL RAILROAD COMPANY 300 P.2d 494 (Idaho, 1956)

In Zenier v. Spokane Intern. R. Co ., 78 Idaho 196 (Idaho 1956), a rancher’s mare and colt was killed, and the rancher sought statutory damages and attorney fees. A jury found for the rancher and imposed damages mainly on his testimony as to value. The railroad sought review, stating that the rancher's own negligence in allowing the horses to run barred recovery and there was no objective evidence as to value. The court upheld the award, finding that the animal’s value to the rancher was permitted as a basis for determining damages where personal property has been injured by the willful or negligent act of another.

Zimmerman v. Robertson 854 P.2d 338 (Mont. 1993)

Plaintiff horse owner sought review of a judgment by the District Court of Yellowstone County, Thirteenth Judicial District (Montana), which entered a directed verdict in favor of defendant veterinarian on the owner's claims of professional negligence. On appeal, the court affirmed the trial court's decision, holding that the owner was required to prove the veterinarian's negligence by expert testimony, and that he failed to do so.  In addition, the court The court found that the "defendant's admissions" exception to the expert testimony requirement did not apply because the veterinarian did not admit that he deviated from the standard of care.

Zimmerman v. Robertson 854 P.2d 338 (Mont. 1993)

Defendant-veterinarian was contracted to castrate plaintiff’s horse. Post-surgical care resulted in a fatal infection of the horse.  The court found that, indeed, expert testimony is required in malpractice cases, as negligence cannot be inferred from the existence of a loss.  The court disagreed with plaintiff that defendant’s own "admissions" in his testimony at trial provided sufficient evidence of deviation from the standard of care to withstand a directed verdict by defendant.  As to plaintiff’s argument regarding a lack of informed consent, the court noted that a medical malpractice claim premised on a theory of lack of informed consent is a separate cause of action rather than an "element" in an otherwise specifically alleged claim of professional negligence.

Pages