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Yofi

Yofi: Bench Default Judgement of $45,480.12 (May 2, 2005)

On May 2, 2005, the Honorable Judge Barbara Linde, Acting Chief Civil Judge for the Seattle District Court, awarded Paula Roemer of Seattle a default judgment of over $45,000 for the death of her 12-year-old  feline, Yofi. This award is believed to be the largest in the history of the State of Washington relating to the wrongful death of a nonhuman  companion. It is also believed to be the largest award in the nation  relating to the death of a cat. It ties the jury award of $30,000 in the veterinary medical malpractice California case of Bluestone v. Bergstrom as setting the highest amount for the “unique” value of a pet. But unlike the Bluestone decision, the court in this case also awarded  $15,000 in emotional distress relating to the death of Yofi, bringing  the total award to $45,480.12. This judgment is higher even than the  default judgment in the case Petco v. Schuster, the recent Texas lawsuit involving the loss of a mini-Schnauzer named Licorice from the custody  of the Austin-branch PETCO grooming parlor. Though reversed in part on  appeal, the Austin court awarded $10,000 each for Licorice™s intrinsic  value and emotional distress.

On February 9, 2004, in Seattle, Washington, a black, female,  intact Chow-Chow named Sheena or Kenna attacked and killed Yofi, Ms.  Roemer™s 12-year-old, domesticated shorthair black-and-white, spayed  Israeli feline. The attack occurred on Ms. Roemer™s realty, in the  fenced backyard. The Chow was owned by Defendant Wallace Gray, a  neighbor of Ms. Roemer. As a result of witnessing and trying to stop the attack, Ms. Roemer endured significant emotional distress. This  included her post-attack search for Yofi - which took most of the  evening and next full day. Thanks to a neighbor, Ms. Roemer found Yofi  the next evening on February 10, 2005, after rigor mortis had set in.  This discovery triggered immense, though unwarranted, guilt and dread  arising from Ms. Roemer™s promise that Yofi would remain safe for the  rest of her life after being rescued as a ridiculed and abandoned kitten on the streets of Yaffo, Israel.

Ms. Roemer incurred cremation and counseling expenses. Her  distress and grief continued through the first anniversary of Yofi™s  death, with trademark signs of severe depression. Following the attack,  Defendant™s Chow continued to roam at-large without supervision, causing distress to Ms. Roemer and other neighbors. Also following the attack,  the City of Seattle prosecuted Defendant Gray for negligent control of  an animal (SMC 12A.06.060). After being picked up on a bench warrant for failure to appear at the arraignment, Gray pled guilty to this gross  misdemeanor on October 11, 2003. Defendant Gray then admits that, “On  February 9, 2004, in Seattle, my dog bit and killed the neighbors cat  due in part to my negligence.”

Click here for a copy of the entered default judgment. (118kb, pdf)

BillMed
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SWEET WILLIAM LA PAZ       (BILL)

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