Argument for an Animals’ Intrinsic Value
Martinez v. Robledo; Workman v. Klause
The Animal Legal Defense Fund filed amicus briefs in two consolidated California cases, in which the issue at stake was whether a plaintiff could recover veterinary expenses if those expenses exceeded the market value of the animal.
September 30, 2012
In 2012, the Animal Legal Defense Fund filed amicus briefs in two consolidated California cases, in which the issue at stake was whether a plaintiff could recover veterinary expenses if those expenses exceeded the market value of the animal.
Martinez v. Robledo involved a dog who was shot and wounded by the defendant, leading to the plaintiff seeking to recover $20,789.81 in veterinarian bills along with punitive damages. In Workman v. Klause, a veterinarian was sued for the $37,766.06 it cost to repair a dog’s botched surgery.
The trial courts in both cases limited damages to the dogs’ “market value.” On appeal, the Animal Legal Defense Fund filed amicus briefs arguing that the plaintiffs should be able to recover the costs spent to nurse the animals back to health where their injuries were caused by the defendant, even if the plaintiff spent more on vet care than the animal was “worth” on the open market.
The briefs contended that capping veterinary expenses at the animal’s market value fails to recognize animals’ true value to their companions.
California’s 2nd Appellate District Court of Appeal agreed, ruling in 2012 that recovery is not limited to their animals’ market value, but rather that the plaintiffs may recover the “reasonable and necessary costs incurred for the treatment and care of the pet attributable to the injury.”
In doing so, the court recognized that “animals are special, sentient beings, because unlike other forms of property, animals feel pain, suffer and die… Animals are a distinct and specially protected form of property.”
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