The Texas Supreme Court In Strickland v. Medlen Denied Recovery Of Wrongful Death Type Damages For The Loss Of A Pet

The Texas Supreme Court reversed the Fort Worth Court of Appeals and denied the recovery of the type of intangible damages often recovered in wrongful death cases. A Fort Worth family sued for the sentimental value of their family pet that was accidentally euthanized by the local animal shelter. The Texas Supreme Court recognized that owners had an unquestionable attachment to “man’s best friend” and conceded the sentimental value pets even mentioning Old Yeller. However, the Court reaffirmed the long-settled rule in Texas that the recovery for the loss of a pet is limited to actual or market value. The Court specifically prohibited the recovery of personal injury type damages for loss of companionship or emotional distress.

Both animal rights and veterinary medicine groups have been following the case closely fearing that the creation of a cause of action for wrongful death type damages for the loss of a pet would make veterinary care cost prohibitive for most pets and pet owners.

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