New York Considers Establishing Cause of Action for Death or Injury to Companion Animal

New York Assembly Bill 5779 would establish a tort cause of action against a person “who with no justifiable purpose intentionally, recklessly, or negligently, by act or omission causes the death or physical injury to a companion animal. The bill provides for punitive damages; restraining orders and other injunctive relief; “damages for the expenses of veterinary and other special medical care required”; “damages for the fair monetary value of the deceased companion animal to his or her owner”; “damages for the loss of the reasonably expected society, companionship, comfort, protection and services” of the deceased or injured companion animal to his or her owner; “court costs and reasonable attorney's fees; and other reasonable damages resulting from the intentional, reckless or negligent act or omission.” The bill sets a three-year statute of limitations on commencement of such actions and orders that damages for injuries sustained by a companion animal shall be payable into a trust for the care of the companion animal, enforceable for the life of the companion animal by a person appointed by the court, and any remaining funds existing at the death of the companion animal shall be distributed to a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection of companion animals.