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December 2, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review

Texas' dogged ruling: State court denies pets exalted status

By George Will



JewishWorldReview.com | Lord Byron was, according to one of his legion of lovers, “mad, bad and dangerous to know,” but he also loved dogs, which explains his cameo appearance in a recent Texas Supreme Court opinion. It answered an interesting question in a way that shows how courts can avoid creating opportunities for trial lawyers.

The eyes of Texas were upon the state’s high court when it reaffirmed an 1891 ruling that because pets are personal property, a bereaved owner of a negligently killed dog can seek only economic damages, not emotional damages. A lower court had sided with the Medlen family, letting them sue for “loss of companionship” after their dog Avery escaped from their back yard, was captured by animal control officers and was mistakenly euthanized.

This created an interesting anomaly: Wrongful-death liability is traditionally defined legislatively and restricted to two fundamental relationships — husband-wife, parent-child. The Medlens sought from the judiciary an essentially legislative elevation of human-animal relationships.

The Texas Supreme Court, reversing the appellate court, ruled that this anomaly was just the tip of a troubling iceberg. In an opinion written by Justice Don Willett, the Supreme Court acknowledged that Byron, who knew about vices, was right that dogs are man’s best friend, possessing “all the virtues of man without his vices.” Nevertheless, “pets are property in the eyes of the law, and we decline to permit non-economic damages rooted solely in an owner’s subjective feelings.”

Otherwise there would be profound ripple effects in a nation with more pets than people. To begin with, people treasure many more pets than just dogs — even cats. Should judges, acting as robed legislators, decide which creatures should be given elevated status?

The Medlens argued that although Avery had no significant economic value, he had lots of “intrinsic value” as a family member. The appeals court held that, since 1963, Texas law has found that when property, such as an irreplaceable heirloom, has little or no market value but has value in “sentiment,” damages may be awarded on this basis. Dogs, too, are property, ergo damages can be collected for Avery because of his sentimental value.

Texas’s Supreme Court decided to distinguish between dogs and heirlooms “such as a wedding veil, pistol” — this is Texas — “jewelry, handmade bedspreads and other items going back several generations.”

Noting that the Medlens “find it odd that Texas law would permit sentimental damages for loss of an heirloom but not an Airedale,” Willett rejoined that it would be even odder if Texans could recover wrongful-death damages for the loss of a Saint Bernard but not for a brother Bernard.

Laconically noting that “the law is no stranger to incongruity,” Willett explained that “permitting sentiment-based damages for destroyed heirloom property portends nothing resembling the vast public-policy impact of allowing such damages in animal-tort cases.”

The court performed something like a cost-benefit analysis to answer the Medlens’ perplexity that they could seek sentimental damages if a taxidermied Avery, rather than a living, panting Avery, had been negligently destroyed.


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The court noted that the American Kennel Club, in a friend of the court brief joined by the Cat Fanciers’ Association and other pet-welfare groups, warned against the unintended consequences of allowing “sentiment-based damages” for injured or destroyed dogs. They fear that “pet litigation will become a cottage industry,” bringing the danger of increased liability to veterinarians, shelter and kennel workers and even dog-sitters. “Litigation would arise when pets are injured in car accidents, police actions, veterinary visits, shelter incidents, protection of livestock, and pet-on-pet aggression.” As risks and costs rose, the results would be fewer free clinics, fewer shelters and defensive veterinary medicine leading to higher prices, and “families, particularly lower-income families, will avoid preventive care for their pets, not seek needed care for ill or injured pets, and be more apt to euthanize a pet.”

“To his dog,” wrote Aldous Huxley, “every man is Napoleon; hence the constant popularity of dogs.” It would, however, be expensive, with myriad social costs, to create a novel tort action for loss of pet companionship. So Texas’s highest court has held that no Texas dog, however beloved, will be given an exalted status akin to that of an heirloom pistol and thereby becoming the subject of imprecise, arbitrary and potentially unlimited tort litigation.

By this judicial statesmanship, the trial bar was muzzled, for now, and denied a fresh arena for mischief. So Texas’s Supreme Court is, for now, man’s best friend.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

George Will's latest book is "With a Happy Eye but: America and the World, 1997-2002" to purchase a copy, click here. Comment on this column by clicking here.

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