University of Vermont AAHS

Joy v. Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation

New York Appellate Division
____ N.Y.S.2d ____, 2004 WL 3019167
December 30, 2004

Summary of Opinion

Plaintiff sued for loss of companionship when her horse was electrocuted by wires owned and maintained by defendant.  The trial court granted summary judgment for the defendant on the ground under New York Law the owner of an animal cannot recover damages for loss of companionship or emotional distress.  In this opinion, the Appellate Division agrees with that decision.

Text of Opinion

 Plaintiffs commenced these actions seeking to recover damages for the loss of their horses, which were electrocuted when wires belonging to defendant fell onto a fence around the property where the horses were kept.  We conclude that Supreme Court properly granted defendant's motion in each action for partial summary judgment dismissing plaintiffs' claims for damages "for loss of companionship and bond between horse and owner."  An animal owner in New York may not recover damages for loss of companionship, which we view here as legally equivalent to emotional distress, resulting from the death of the animal (see Lewis v. DiDonna, 294 A.D.2d 799, 801;  see also Johnson v. Douglas, 289 A.D.2d 202;  Dabb v. NYNEX Corp., 262 A.D.2d 1079, 1079-1080).

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