Blogging About Critters Since 2007

Monday, May 5, 2008

Vermont High Court Considers Non-economic Damages for Lost Pets

The Vermont Supreme court is taking on the issue of whether pets have a value over and above their economic one.
Vermont's Supreme Court will hear a case about whether a pet owner has the right to compensation for the emotional pain and loss of companionship when the animal dies as a result of negligence.

Sensing the importance of the case, veterinary associations—including the AVMA—animal rights groups, and other interested parties are weighing in. Although limited to the state of Vermont, the court's decision has the potential to reshape animal jurisprudence in this country as well as the practice of veterinary medicine.

The plaintiffs, Robert and Susan Goodby, were having their two cats treated for hypertension in December 2002. The veterinarians had prescribed 1.25 mg amlodopine chew tabs, which had been dispensed by a veterinary pharmacy to treat the condition. The concentration of the drug dispensed was allegedly much higher than the labeled dosage, which the plaintiffs claim caused their pets to become ill and die within days of one another.

In 2005, the Goodbys filed suit against the veterinarians and the compounding pharmacy, citing breach of contract and negligence as well as loss of companionship and society, severe emotional distress, and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

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