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Tag: arlington circuit court

What’s your dog’s life worth?

A lawsuit headed to court next week in Arlington County, Virginia will take up the question of what a pet’s life is worth.

Jeffrey Nanni sued his former domestic partner, Maurice Kevin Smith, alleging that Smith  killed their 12-pound Chihuahua, Buster. Smith was found guilty of assault and battery and cruelty to animals in connection with the incident. Since Buster’s death, the suit says, Nanni, 42, a paralegal, “continues to suffer severe emotional distress.”

The suit, according to a story in Monday’s Washington Post, asks that monetary damages be awarded on the basis of  Buster’s worth to Nanni “as a companion animal.”

If he wins, the case would be groundbreaking one in Virginia, where state law says that dogs and cats are considered property, and that owners are entitled to recover only the value of a pet. In the past, that has been interpreted to mean the replacement value.

Nanni’s attorney, a White House counsel for President Bill Clinton, hopes to move the boundaries of Virginia law in asking a jury to award money for “Buster’s actual value” to Nanni, saying pets have “irreplaceable relationships” with their owners.

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