South-Western Legal Studies in Business

No Emotional Distress Recovery For Loss of Companion Animal
Description Appeals court held that no recovery for emotional distress would be allowed in a case where a family lost seven "companion" sheep to a neighbor's dogs. Recovery is only allowed in certain cases where a close person is injured or lost, not an animal.
Topic Torts
Key Words Emotional Distress; Third Party; Animals
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Two dogs owned by the Meffens entered the Krasneckys' property and killed seven of the Krasneckys' sheep, which the Krasneckys' viewed as "companion animals" that they had treated as "babies." The Krasneckys sued for emotional distress and loss of companionship. The trial court dismissed the case. The Krasneckys appealed.
Decision

Affirmed. "Our decisional law permits certain persons to recover damages in tort for emotional distress resulting from an injury to a third party. For the most part, the class of persons allowed such recovery had been limited to '[a] parent of or another person closely related to a third person directly injured by the tortfeasor's conduct.' Whether that class may be expanded to include persons who suffer the loss of a companion animal is a novel question in this jurisdiction." It would be illogical "to accord the plaintiffs greater rights than would be recognized in the case of a person who suffers emotional distress as a result of the tortiously caused death of a member of his immediate family."

Citation Krasnecky v. Meffen, 777 N.E.2d 1286 (App. Ct., Mass., 2002)

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