FL Bill Awarding "Non-Economic Damages" For Death or Injury to a Pet Set Withdrawn by Sponsor

The Issue:

Senate Bill 1270 seeks to amend Florida Statutes by specifying liability and providing for compensatory, non-economic damages for the injury or death of a pet.

The Details:

SB 1270 provides that, in any action for the recovery of damages arising out of the injury or death of a domestic animal, the defendant IS liable for:

  • Monetary losses for reasonable and necessary veterinary care of the pet.
  • Monetary loss in the fair market value of the pet.
  • Non-economic damages up to $5,000 for the loss of reasonably expected companionship, love and affection of the pet (if injury or death was caused by gross negligence).

NOTE:  Limits for non-economic damages do not apply to causes of action for intentional infliction of emotional distress or any other civil action other than the direct and sole loss of a pet.

The provisions of SB 1270 do not apply to:

  • Veterinarians (licensed under Ch. 474 of FL Statutes).
  • Any nonprofit entity or governmental agency or their employees negligently causing the death of a pet while acting on the behalf of public health or animal welfare.
  • Any killing of a dog that is killing or worrying livestock.

For purposes of this section:

  • “Pet” means a domesticated dog or cat normally maintained in or near the household of its owner.

PIJAC Position:

PIJAC consistently opposes legislation that would grant non-economic damages to pet owners.  Such measures can subject breeders, pet product manufacturers, retailers, veterinarians and others to excessive claims and would raise the cost of companion animals for the public.  Allowing for these types of damages could result in remedies that are not even available in most incidents for human loss.

Additionally, they have the potential to disproportionately benefit those with access to higher-priced attorneys who can argue for larger awards and, by extension, to encourage attorneys to actively solicit clients seeking these awards. For these reasons and others, courts in thirty-five states have consistently rejected emotion-based liability awards.