Goodby v. Vetpharm, Inc

In Goodby v. Vetpharm, Inc., 186 Vt. 63, 974 A.2d 1269, 1271 (Vt. 2009), the Vermont Supreme Court held plaintiffs in a veterinary malpractice action were not entitled to noneconomic damages. After explaining the plaintiffs were requesting "a judicial expansion of law to recover for loss of a pet [when] the law does not allow for loss of a broad variety of critically loved human beings," id. at 1273, P 10, the court stated: "It is beyond dispute that our bond with pets often, if not usually, transcends their value to strangers in the marketplace. Experience tells us that emotional attachments can also attend our associations with farm and work animals. Plaintiffs fail to demonstrate a compelling reason why, as a matter of public policy, the law should offer broader compensation for the loss of a pet than would be available for the loss of a friend, relative, work animal, heirloom, or memento -- all of which can be prized beyond measure, but for which this state's law does not recognize recovery for sentimental loss. We are not persuaded that a special exception to recover noneconomic damages for the loss of companion animals occasioned by negligence, damages not entirely distinct from human grief and anguish attending the negligent destruction of other personally important property, both sentient and nonsentient, should be undertaken outside of the legislative arena." Id. at 1274, P 11.