Sentimental Damages

Sentimental value of dog to owner is often included in the owner’s damages. For example, in LaPorte v. Associated Independents, Inc., 163 So. 2d 267, 1 A.L.R.3d 992 (Fla. 1964), a dog was killed and the owner sued for mental distress. The Supreme Court of Florida rejected the lower court’s assertion that it is improper to include an allowance for sentimental value of the dog to its owner. The court said that it could not accept the restriction of the damages recoverable for the loss of a pet to its intrinsic value:

    “Without indulging in a discussion of the affinity between ‘sentimental value’ and ‘mental suffering,’ the court feels that the affection of a master for his or her dog is a very real thing and that the malicious destruction of the pet provides an element of damage for which the owner should recover, irrespective of the value of the animal because of its special training, such as a Seeing Eye dog or a sheepdog.”

In Jankoski v. Preiser Animal Hosp., Ltd., 157 Ill. App. 3d 818, 110 Ill. Dec. 53, 510 N.E.2d 1084 (1st Dist. 1987), appeal denied, 117 Ill. 2d 544, 115 Ill. Dec. 400, 517 N.E.2d 1086 (1987), the court said that, under the concept of actual value to the owner, in valuing a dog that has been killed, the court may include some element of sentimental value in order to prevent limiting the plaintiff to merely nominal damages. The court also said, however, that the owner of an injured or dead dog has no independent cause of action for loss of companionship.

As stated above, a number of states have statutes that establish the conditions for recovery and the monetary limits. You have to research the statutes of the state where the injury happened. (See the Links page for websites that contain legal materials, as well as tutorials for doing the research.) Recovery for this item of damage is included in When a Dog Is Injured Or Killed.