La Porte v. Associated Independents, Inc.

163 So. 2d 267 (1964)

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La Porte v. Associated Independents, Inc.

Florida Supreme Court
163 So. 2d 267 (1964)

Facts

Phyllis La Porte (plaintiff) sued her garbage collector, Associated Independents, Inc. (company) (defendant). A company employee had killed La Porte’s miniature dachshund by purposefully throwing a garbage can at the dog. La Porte claimed that she had experienced mental suffering because of the incident. The trial judge instructed the jury that La Porte’s mental suffering could be considered in awarding damages. La Porte was awarded $2,000 in compensatory damages and $1,000 in punitive damages. The company appealed on the ground that the trial judge had erred by instructing the jury that La Porte’s mental suffering could be considered in determining the damages. The company argued that the incident involving the dog was different from a previous case before the Florida Supreme Court, in which the court held that the plaintiff could recover for mental suffering experienced. The company distinguished the cases on the ground that the previous case had involved the death of a child and had involved a personal transaction between the plaintiff and the defendant. The court of appeals reversed the trial court on the ground that the instruction to the jury was given in error. The court of appeals explained that sentimental value may not be considered in determining the appropriate compensation for the loss of a pet. The matter was appealed again.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Thomas, J.)

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