Court: No sentimental award for dog death

April 7, 2013 at 1:56 PM

FORT WORTH, Texas, April 7 (UPI) -- The Texas Supreme Court overruled a court of appeals decision that awarded damages to a family for the sentimental value of its mistakenly euthanized dog.

The court Friday restored its 120-year-old precedent that a person can sue only for the market value of a pet, the Forth Worth (Texas) Star-Telegram reported.

The Texas Supreme Court ruled Friday against a Fort Worth family that sued for the sentimental value of their dog, an 8-year-old Labrador mix, after it was mistakenly euthanized at a Fort Worth animal shelter.

The case was brought by Jeremy and Kathryn Medlen, whose 8-year-old Labrador mix was accidentally euthanized while it was held at a Fort Worth animal shelter after it escaped from the Medlen's back yard.

"Given the richness that companion animals add to our everyday lives, losing 'man's best friend' is undoubtedly sorrowful. Even the gruffest among us tears up every time at the end of 'Old Yeller.' Relational attachment is unquestionable. But it is also non-compensable," Justice Don Willett said.

Randy Turner, the lawyer for the Medlens, said he thought the court would modify the old law in light of people's changing relationship with their pets, which many regard as family members.

John Cayce, the lawyer for the former animal shelter employee in her appeal to the Supreme Court, said the appellate court ruling would have had a "devastating" effect, causing higher malpractice insurance costs for veterinarians and thus for pet owners to pay more for vet visits.

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