Pet Litigation Topic of SHB-Authored Article

DC Public Policy Partner Victor Schwartz, Associate Phil Goldberg and Staff Attorney Chris Appel have co-authored an analysis and perspective article on pet-related litigation in the October 8, 2007, issue of BNA's Product Safety & Liability Reporter.  Titled "Plaintiffs' Bar Campaign to Introduce Pain and Suffering Damages in Pet Food Cases Will Only Increase the Pain and Suffering of People's Pets," the article shows that expanding the damages available to the owners of pets injured by contaminated pet food or other torts could ultimately impose higher costs on pet owners.  Veterinarians would likely either leave the profession or charge higher fees to cover the increased costs of liability coverage.  Owners themselves could face "potentially enormous liability" if their pets attack another animal, and the public at large could face skyrocketing auto and homeowner insurance if individuals were liable for emotional distress, sentimental value or loss of companionship when a pet is killed running out into the street or eating something poisonous on another person's property.  The article contends that laws allowing pet owners to recover for veterinarian bills and other costs incurred due to the wrongful act of another "have created a stable legal system," and a review of decided cases demonstrates that the courts have consistently turned aside efforts to expand the relief available in pet cases.  The authors conclude, "Losing a pet unexpectedly can often be tragic, whether it be a dog, a cat, or a goldfish, but for every one owner who hits the 'litigation lottery' and would recover non-economic damages, thousands of animals may no longer get the care they need."   To view the article, please click here.