FORT WORTH COURT OF APPEALS RULES
OWNERS MAY SUE TO RECOVER THE SENTIMENTAL (INTRINSIC) VALUE OF A PET
In a November 2011 opinion, the Fort Worth Court of Appeals held in Medlen v. Strickland that pet owners could be awarded damages based on the sentimental value of a pet. The decision reverses the ruling of the trial court and changes what most thought was a well-settled area of law.
In the case, a City of Fort Worth animal control employee (Strickland) mistakenly euthanized a dog. The owners of the dog sued Strickland alleging that her negligence proximately caused the dog’s death. Because the dog had little to no market value, the owners sued for the “sentimental or intrinsic value” of the dog. The trial judge dismissed the suit, and the dog owners appealed.
The Fort Worth Court of Appeals held that an owner may be awarded damages based on the sentimental value of lost personal property such as a dog, leaving the intermediate appellate courts split on the issue.
Strickland’s legal counsel filed a motion for reconsideration en banc (by all of the court’s justices), which was denied on December 1, 2011. Strickland may file a petition for review with the Texas Supreme Court in mid-January.