Scottsdale, Arizona


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Geoff Trachtenberg
Geoff Trachtenberg
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Negligent Injury or Death of a Pet

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For many pet-owners, pets are more like family members than simple property, so what happens when a pet is negligently injured or worse? Historically, those pets were treated just like property and the owners were simply entitled to the “market value” or “replacement value” of the pets. While the law varies from state to state, in Arizona the courts have suggested that pet owners may have a right to recover emotional distress damages as well.

In a recent case that I handled for a couple that had suffered the loss of frozen embryos, the Arizona Court of Appeals held that “a party can recover damages for emotional distress arising from the tortious loss of property if the emotional distress is unrelated to the pecuniary loss.” So what does that mean? It seems to mean that, if you suffer the loss of a pet, for example, you can recover emotional distress damages arising from that loss, provided the distress is not simply a function of having to “spend money on a new pet” (i.e., provided it is “unrelated to the pecuniary loss.”).