Although some state have, for decades, awarded owners of companion animals putative or emotional damages for the loss of a pet, a recent California Appellate case states that the law does not recognize any “peculiar value” of a pet.
In the case of McMahon v. Craig, No G040324, slip op at 2 (Cal. Ct. App. July 31, 2009), a veterinarian was sued after the owner’s Maltese died of aspiration pneumonia, while under the care of the vet.
McMahon alleged that the vet acted in a negligent manner in the treatment of her dog.
The California Appeals court ruled that the plaintiff “was neither a witness nor a direct victim of [the] defendants’ negligent acts” and thus could not obtain emotional distress damages for negligence and it also limited proof of special value to those attributes “evidenced by the original cost, and the quality and condition at the time of the loss.”
The Court essentially ruled that the “market value” and any “special value” of a pet are one and the same.
Try telling any pet owner that the value of a lost pet is simply, the "replacement cost."