Bid to Create New Tort Over Pets Fails, For Now

In what he calls "the fight of his life," an Oregon attorney says that he's not giving up on trying to establish a new tort that will allow pet owners to sue over loss of companionship. A judge recently threw out the attorney's loss-of-companionship claim in a pet death case, holding that the claim was not a viable theory under Oregon law.

Attorney Geordie Duckler, who is pursuing the case on other grounds, said his tort battle is far from over.

"I'm disappointed," Duckler said. "But I'm not stopping at this stage with this tort. All common law torts have their infancy. This is a difficult delivery process."

Duckler of the Animal Law Practice in Portland, Ore., said he'll either argue the loss-of-companionship claim on appeal, or in the next pet case he gets. Duckler is representing an Oregon couple that had to euthanize their 14-year-old lab mix after a neighbor allegedly purposely ran him over.

The neighbor was convicted of animal abuse last year. The couple is seeking over $1.6 million, claiming intentional infliction of emotional distress and loss of companionship. While the latter claim was dismissed, the judge allowed the jury to decide punitive damages and the emotional stress claim. Greenup v. Weaver, No. CV 04-12-0778 (Clackamas Co., Ore., Cir. Ct.).

Details here from the National Law Journal via Law.com.