- Posted September 7, 2012 by
New Appellate Decision Expands California Law- Pet owners may recover emotional distress damages for intentional harm inflicted upon their pet
One of the major issues on appeal was whether our clients could recover under their trespass to personal property cause of action for the "emotional distress they suffered resulting from Meihaus's injuring Romeo by striking him with a bat." (Opn., pg. 15.)
According to Jon Mitchell Jackson, the Plotniks' trial lawyer in this case, "most animal and pet owners, especially dog owners, will tell you that there is no other domestic animal to which you can become attached. The relationship between a family and their dog is special and very unique. Harm to such a pet or worse, the death of the family dog, will be keenly felt. Under the right set of facts and circumstances, someone intentionally setting out to cause such harm, as in this case, can now be held fully accountable for the injuries and damages to both the dog and its owners."
The Court of Appeal agreed and concluded, "We hold California law allows a pet owner to recover for mental suffering caused by another's intentional act that injures or kills his or her animal." (Opn., pg. 2.) The court acknowledged that damages for trespass to personal property allows a plaintiff to recover actual damages. It also noted that no case law prohibited the recovery of damages for emotional distress. (Opn., pg. 16.)