Volume 17, Issue 1 (Fall 2010)
Steven M. Wise
NONECONOMIC DAMAGE AWARDS IN VETERINARY MALPRACTICE: USING THE HUMAN MEDICAL EXPERIENCE AS A MODEL TO PREDICT THE EFFECT OF NONECONOMIC DAMAGE AWARDS ON THE PRACTICE OF COMPANION ANIMAL VETERINARY MEDICINE
Many scholars have argued for and against the recovery of noneconomic damages in cases of veterinary malpractice involving companion animals. However, scholarship has not focused on the results that allowing noneconomic damages may have on the structure of companion animal veterinary practices. This Article uses the human medical field as a predictive model to explore the potential effects of granting noneconomic damages in veterinary malpractice cases. The author argues that awarding damages substantial enough to encourage increased litigation will result in significant changes in the field of veterinary medicine. Allowing for recovery of noneconomic damages will make veterinary care more expensive and will not significantly deter negligent malpractice. Individuals will pay more for veterinary care or companion animals will receive less care if high noneconomic damage awards become the norm in veterinary malpractice cases. Although these changes will affect all veterinary facilities, ironically, high quality veterinary facilities may be more likely to be sued than their lower quality counterparts. The author concludes by discussing alternatives to malpractice litigation, the human-animal bond, and the possible factors contributing to the high cost of human medicine in the United States.
Animal protection laws have traditionally categorized animals according to the manner in which humans use them. Animals have been categorized as companion animals, animals used in medical testing, animals raised for slaughter, and wildlife, and the protection afforded to animals has been ostensibly commensurate to their use categorization.
This Article focuses on two alternative strategies that provide legal protection for animals without relying on human use as their primary mode of categorization. First, the Article looks at protecting animals as a single category, in particular through the use of constitutional provisions. The Article then looks at a species-based model that seeks to extend some traditional “human rights” to Great Apes.
Ultimately, the Article concludes that the species-based model provides a more effective alternative to the use-based model, since it provides an alternate means of categorization that shifts focus to the needs and capacities of animals. While generalized protection at the constitutional level may be rhetorically effective, it does not offer an alternative form of legal category that would allow for precision in legal rule-making.
This Article presents a theory of the economic value of companion animal life. Under the existing United States torts regime, the standard damages award available to an owner for an action arising from a companion animal death is its fair market value. This approach implicitly assumes that pet owners are irrational, given that they generally invest more in their pets than the animal’s fair market value. This Article suggests that, based on an economic model that conceptualizes companion animals as an employee-investment hybrid, the value of a companion animal is higher than its fair market value. This model has implications for economic damages calculations in wrongful death lawsuits and for companion animal welfare.
Shark finning is amongst the most wasteful and cruel exploitation of animals currently practiced in the world today. The decimation of shark populations threatens the fragile balance of the oceans’ ecosystems and ultimately threatens the human population as well. This Article addresses the economic and cultural reasons for the continued practice and demand for shark finning. Many protections for sharks have been attempted, but nearly all fail due to inadequate restrictions and enforcement. Various international treaties and conventions have to some degree addressed the issue, including the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species and the Convention on Migratory Species, among others. A leader on the issue, the United States has made several statutory and regulatory efforts to prohibit shark finning. Other countries also have enacted protections. However, due to lack of enforcement, lack of resources, and the presence of legal loopholes, shark finning continues on a wide scale. This Article examines weaknesses in the current attempts at protective measures and explores new ideas for the protection of sharks.
This Comment reviews the history of the horse-drawn carriage industry in New York City and details legislative efforts to regulate the business. Many cities in the United States feature horse-drawn carriages as a tourist attraction, but they are most associated with New York. The long-standing controversy over the working and living conditions of the horses that pull the cabs has garnered less national attention than other animal welfare issues, despite the fatalities and injuries suffered by the equines on traffic-choked Manhattan streets. Supporters of the industry defend it as an important contributor to the local economy, an iconic symbol of the city, and a source of livelihood for the operators. They maintain that municipal regulations are sufficient to protect the horses from mistreatment and the public from the perils of accidents involving carriages. However, city regulation has historically proven to be inadequate and ineffective in ensuring that the horses are not exposed to inhumane conditions. Moreover, the inherent hazards and stressors of New York City streets take a toll on the horses’ health and well-being that regulation cannot address. For these reasons, the protection of the horses and the public cannot be assured until the carriage business in the city is abolished. This Comment discusses the movement to ban the industry, including proposals that would replace the carriages with replicas of antique cars. With inadequate regulation and political obstacles to a ban, it may ultimately take a tide of public sentiment to end the suffering of carriage horses.
Stacy A. Nowicki
A national animal abuser registry has the potential to provide law enforcement agencies with a much-needed tool for tracking animal abusers, but no such registry exists. This Comment first discusses existing state and federal criminal registries for sex offenders, child abusers, and elder abusers. It determines that existing criminal registries often contain inaccurate entries and that they have little deterrent effect, making their potential infringement on offenders’ Constitutional rights and other collateral consequences difficult to justify.
This Comment then turns to the viability of a national animal abuse registry, discussing the link between the abuse of animals and violence towards other humans. Although no state or national animal abuse registries currently exist, several states have tried to pass legislation that would create such registries. In the absence of state-run registries, independent animal interest groups have formed registries of their own. This Comment explores the inherent drawbacks of volunteer-run, financially unaccountable organizations promulgating information about animal abusers. It then concludes that government funding and staffing could fix the accountability gaps that exist with the registries developed by private organizations and proposes a framework for a national animal abuse registry.
This book review examines Lee Hall’s new book, which presents an innovative animal rights theory: wild animals, due to their autonomous nature, are endowed with rights, but domesticated animals lack rights because they are not autonomous. With that theory in mind, Hall outlines ideas about how humans are obligated to treat both wild and domestic animals. Hall first argues that the rights of wild animals require that humans let them alone. Yet, despite the fact that domestic animals lack rights under Hall’s theory, Hall argues that humans are required to care for them because it is humans who brought them into existence. While the reviewer believes that Hall’s theory is indeed innovative and appealing, he ultimately concludes that it cannot explain why domestic animals completely lack rights and that the implications of the theory for how they are to be treated are unsatisfactory.