Massachusetts May Allow Non-Economic Damages For Pet Loss

Non-economic damages may be allowed for pet loss according to Massachusetts.

Damages for the malicious injury to pets would be allowed under Massachusetts House Bill 1250, legislation first introduced in 2009 and set to be heard Thursday, Jan. 28.

HB 1250, sponsored by Rep. James Arciero, D-Middlesex, adds to current law the option for non-economic damages in lawsuits alleging the malicious injury or killing of a pet. As written, the bill says such damages may include emotional distress and loss of companionship.

The bill leaves much discretion, according to the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC). Though two alternative damages are listed, other non-economic damages are possible, PIJAC said.

In addition, PIJAC said such damages are not determined by monetary loss, and juries often have discretion in making an award.

PIJAC opposes legislation that would grant non-economic damages to pet owners, saying such measures can subject breeders, pet product manufacturers, retailers and veterinarians to excessive claims and raise the cost of companion animals for the public.

A hearing on the bill is scheduled for 1 p.m. Jan. 28 before the Joint Judiciary Committee, Room A-1 in the state Capitol in Boston.

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