Posts Tagged ‘animal value’

Texas Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments on Value of Family’s Dog

Monday, January 21st, 2013

Dallas, Texas, /PRNewswire-iReach/ The Texas Supreme Court heard arguments on January 10, 2013, from lawyers representing both sides in a case originally filed alleging the wrongful death of a family pet. The initial lawsuit was dismissed by the trial judge, and the plaintiff, Jeremy Medlen, successfully appealed to the Second Court of Appeals. The defendants then sought a review of the case by the state’s highest court.

What is the Value of a Companion Animal?

Imagine that your beloved dog, a part of your family for years, and a faithful companion to your two small children, escaped from your back yard during a thunderstorm. You learn that he is safe and sound at the local animal shelter, and you can pick him up as soon as he is micro-chipped. When you arrive on the appointed day, with your small children in tow, you learn that the shelter has euthanized your dog (by accident, they claim).

For and his family, this was no bad dream…it was a reality. The devastating sense of loss he experienced convinced him that he needed to do more than grieve the unnecessary of his dog. He contacted attorney Randy Turner, of Bailey & Galyen, to see what his options were.

According to Turner, Jeremy wasn’t initially interested in a monetary recovery; he simply wanted to others not to suffer the way he and his family had. Turner told him, however, that, under Texas law, there was no legal action he could take unless he wanted to seek damages for the monetary value of the dog. Jeremy’s dog, Avery, was a mixed breed with no appreciable market value. Turner told him, though, that the Texas Supreme Court had recognized the concept of “sentimental value” in other types of property, such as family heirlooms or photographs. Jeremy agreed to be a test case in the attempt to establish sentimental value in a pet.

The Lawsuit

Turner filed a lawsuit alleging negligence by the Tarrant County animal control officer. The trial judge dismissed the lawsuit, citing an 1891 opinion allowing recovery for monetary value only. Turner appealed, and the Second Court of Appeals reversed the trial court ruling. The court found it inconsistent that a person could recover sentimental value damages for a lost photograph of a dog, but not for the dog itself.

Veterinary medical associations, the American Kennel Club, pet product manufacturers and trade groups, have all filed briefs with the Texas Supreme Court supporting the defendant’s position.They contend that finding sentimental value here leads to the likelihood of a slippery slope, allowing juries to find sentimental value almost anywhere. Turner believes this to be a property rights issue, not an animal welfare issue, and has the support of property law professors from law schools across Texas.

Turner acknowledges that the odds are against him, citing statistics that show that nearly nine out of ten cases reviewed by the Supreme Court are reversed. The court’s ruling is not expected for several weeks.


Randy Turner


Bailey & Galyen – Attorneys at Law

Phone: 817-288-1101