/ May 20, 2009

Vermont Rules No Recovery For Pet Loss

The Vermont Supreme Court dismissed pet owner claims following the deaths of two cats who were being treated for hypertension. Two questions were at issue in this case:

1) Whether noneconomic damages are available when a pet dies due to negligent or wanton acts of veterinarians

2) Whether a claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress is available where a pet dies while its human companion is in the zone of danger.

The Court ruled that the plaintiffs failed to demonstrate any reason why public policy should support recovery for noneconomic damages related to the death of a pet. It reasoned that under law, people may only recover for the loss of their next of kin (which bars recovery for the loss of a grandchild, for example).

The Animal Health Institute submitted a “friend of the court brief” stating that allowing this type of recovery will increase the cost of pet care and will disadvantage all pets. In it’s post-verdict statement, the AHI commended the Vermont Supreme Court pointing out that owners can already be compensated for out of pocket expenses.

Read the opinion on Fastcase here.

Source: PR Newswire

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