Establishes a tort cause of action for the wrongful injury or death of a companion animal; provides for compensatory and punitive damages and injunctive relief and three year statute of limitations on commencement of such an action.
NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF LEGISLATION submitted in accordance with Assembly Rule III, Sec 1(f)
BILL NUMBER: A5779
TITLE OF BILL:
An act to amend the general obligations law, in relation to establishing
a cause of action in tort for the wrongful injury to or death of a
PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL:
Establishes a tort cause of action for the wrongful injury or death of a
SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS:
Section one of the bill amends the law by adding section 11-108 to the
general obligations law as follows:
Paragraph one refers the reader to the definition of companion animals
existing in section three hundred and fifty of agriculture and markets
Paragraph two discusses the monetary consequences faced by a person
charged with causing the death of a companion animal.
Paragraph three discusses the monetary consequences faced by the person
who causes physical injury or serious physical injury to a companion
Paragraph four provides for punitive damages.
Paragraph five provides a statute of limitations of three years for the
compensation of the owner for his or her injuries.
Paragraph six provides a statute of limitations of three years for the
owner to receive compensation for harm inflicted upon the companion
animal. It goes on to explain that the collected compensation will be
payable into a trust for the companion animals care. If the animal
should die, any remaining money will be distributed to a nonprofit
organization dedicated to the protection of companion animals.
Paragraph 7 states that, if deemed appropriate, the courts may issue a
restraining order against the guilty party.
Brutal violence against animals, so often a precursor to violence
against humans, goes on largely undeterred - and entirely uncompensated
- because criminal anti-cruelty measures often aren't enforced, and our
civil tort law still treats animals the same as inanimate property: like
table and chairs. Although several courts in New York have departed from
the traditional approach, many are hesitant, absent legislative guid-
ance, to relinquish the common law's antiquated, scientifically obsolete
assumption that animals are just 'things.'
Americans entering the 21st century recognize the importance of our
relationships with animals, which has been demonstrated in study after
study. According to recent reports in USA TODAY, more than two-thirds of
pet owners say they consider their pet a member of their family; 50% of
pet owners surveyed said they would be "very likely" to risk their won
lives to rescue their pet, and another 33% said they would be "somewhat
likely" to do so.
In 1993, New York's state legislature passed the Pet Cemeteries and Pet
Crematoriums law, which begins, "The legislature hereby finds and
declares that the relationships that humans develop with other members
of the animal kingdom that are taken into our homes and kept as pets are
unique and special. These relationships can enrich our lives and
increases our happiness. Even after the death of a pet, human attachment
to the memory of the pet often remains very strong..."
Writing in the New York University Law Review, Debra Squires-Lee noted
in 1995 that according to the Restatement of Torts, Second, "the goals
of tort are: (a) to give compensation, indemnity or restitution for
harms; (b) to determine rights; (c) to punish wrongdoers and deter
wrongful conduct; and (d) to vindicate parties and deter retaliation or
violent and unlawful self-help." Ms. Squires-Lee concluded, "the
emotional harms wrought by the death of a companion animal must be
recognized if these goals of tort law are to be fulfilled."
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:
2002 Referred to Judiciary.
2003-04: Referred to Judiciary
2005-06: A.3585 Reported from Judiciary, referred to Codes.
2007: A2610 Reported from Judiciary and referred to Codes.
2008: A2610 Referred to Judiciary.
2009-10: Referred to Judiciary.
2011-2012: A3508 Referred to Judiciary.
2013-14: A.3414 Referred to Judiciary.
2015: reported referred to codes
2016: reported referred to rules
2018: A4749 reported referred to codes
2019-20: A.1113; Referred to Judiciary
This act shall take effect immediately and shall apply to causes of
action under section 11-108 of the general obligations law as added by
section one of this act which arise on or after such date.
STATE OF NEW YORK
2021-2022 Regular Sessions
February 24, 2021
Introduced by M. of A. GLICK, GALLAGHER, COLTON -- Multi-Sponsored by --
M. of A. COOK, ENGLEBRIGHT, GALEF, GOTTFRIED -- read once and
referred to the Committee on Judiciary
AN ACT to amend the general obligations law, in relation to establishing
a cause of action in tort for the wrongful injury to or death of a
The People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assem-bly, do enact as follows:
1 Section 1. The general obligations law is amended by adding a new
2 section 11-108 to read as follows:
3 § 11-108. Wrongful injury or death of companion animal. 1. As used in
4 this section:
5 (a) the term "companion animal" shall have the same meaning as such
6 term is defined in subdivision five of section three hundred fifty of
7 the agriculture and markets law; and
8 (b) the terms "physical injury" and "serious physical injury" shall
9 have the same meaning as such terms are defined in subdivisions nine and
10 ten, respectively, of section 10.00 of the penal law.
11 2. A person who with no justifiable purpose intentionally, recklessly
12 or negligently, by act or omission causes the death of a companion
13 animal shall be liable in damages for the fair monetary value of the
14 deceased companion animal to his or her owner, including damages for the
15 loss of the reasonably expected society, companionship, comfort,
16 protection and services of the deceased companion animal to his or her
17 owner; court costs and reasonable attorney's fees; and other reasonable
18 damages resulting from the intentional, reckless or negligent act or
20 3. A person who with no justifiable purpose intentionally, recklessly
21 or negligently, by act or omission causes physical injury or serious
22 physical injury to a companion animal shall be liable in damages for the
23 expenses of veterinary and other special medical care required; the loss
EXPLANATION--Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
 is old law to be omitted.
A. 5779 2
1 of reasonably expected society, companionship, comfort, protection and
2 services of the injured companion animal to his or her owner; court
3 costs and reasonable attorney's fees; and other reasonable damages
4 resulting from the intentional, reckless or negligent act or omission.
5 4. A person who with no justifiable purpose intentionally or reckless-
6 ly, by act or omission causes the serious physical injury or death of a
7 companion animal may be liable in punitive damages.
8 5. Damages under this section for injuries sustained by a companion
9 animal's owner shall be recovered in an action in tort, commenced within
10 three years from the date of injury or death or from the date when the
11 owner knew, or in the exercise of reasonable diligence should have
12 known, of the factual basis for a cause of action, subject to further
13 extension on account of any suspension of the statute of limitations due
14 to infancy, death or other cause as provided by law.
15 6. Damages under this section for injuries sustained by a companion
16 animal shall be recovered in an action in tort brought by a guardian ad
17 litem or next friend appointed by the court and, commenced within three
18 years from the date of injury or from the date when the guardian ad
19 litem or next friend knew, or in the exercise of reasonable diligence
20 should have known, of the factual basis for a cause of action, subject
21 to further extension on account of any suspension of the statute of
22 limitations due to infancy, death or other cause as provided by law.
23 Damages so recovered shall be payable into a trust for the care of the
24 companion animal, which trust shall be enforceable for the life of the
25 companion animal by a person appointed by the court. Any remainder of
26 trust funds existing at the death of the companion animal shall be
27 distributed to a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection of
28 companion animals.
29 7. Restraining orders and other injunctive relief for the wrongful
30 injury or killing of a companion animal may be issued by a court of
31 competent jurisdiction as appropriate.
32 § 2. This act shall take effect immediately and shall apply to causes
33 of action under section 11-108 of the general obligations law as added
34 by section one of this act which arise on or after such date.