Texas Supreme Court will weigh whether courts can award damages based on sentimental value of pets

dog

How much is this aluminum good luck piece I stamped out in a Greyhound bus station back in 1971 worth? How about my high school football mouthguard?

How about my dog, Liberty?

If you answered incalculable, you’d be correct, at least for the first two if you aren’t a judge or a member of a jury in Texas. State law has long allowed for the award of damages based on the sentimental value of property.

(Please see City of Tyler v. Likes, 1997, Porras v. Craig, 1984 and Brown v. Frontier Theaters Inc., 1963.)

The Texas Supreme Court has agreed to consider what is for most pet owners the correction of a horrendous 120-year-old legal oversight, allowing courts to assign a dollar value to their emotional attachment to their pets, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram is reporting.

The 2nd Court of Appeals in Fort Worth thought this was reasonable, deciding in favor of Kathryn and Jeremy Medlen, whose beloved 8-year-old Labrador mix, Avery, was euthanized in error three years ago in an animal shelter, according to the story.

A Tarrant County civil district court originally refused to recognize sentimental value and dismissed the case, which the Medlens appealed.

"Dogs are unconditionally devoted to their owners," the appeals court said in its ruling. "We interpret timeworn Supreme Court law to acknowledge that the special value of man's best friend should be protected."

Based solely on unconditional devotion, I certainly hope no one mistakenly euthanizes my mouthguard.

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Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or mark@texaswatchdog.org or on Twitter at @marktxwatchdog.

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Photo of cute dogs by flickr user ario_, used via a Creative Commons license.