Kristen Lindsey should be sued in the civil courts under the law of tort for damages including putative damages. If she was sued in the civil courts, the amount of damages would be quite small but the effect would be to publicise the matter through social media and in newspapers which would only be a good thing in the search for justice for Tiger, the cat she wilfully killed with a bow and arrow (see all the Lindsey articles).
All the discussion on the Internet and on social media has been about obtaining justice for Tiger through the criminal courts. This is essentially a criminal matter therefore she should be prosecuted by the authorities but, as we know, the District Attorney does not want to prosecute her and the grand jury has returned a no-bill for a felony charge (although a lesser charge is still feasible).
Another way of bringing this matter to the courts is for the owner(s) of Tiger to sue Kristen Lindsey. This throws up an immediate problem. The internet has been extremely quiet on the subject of Tiger’s owners. Almost no one has talked about it but where are Tiger’s owners? Was Tiger a stray cat without an owner or did he have a caretaker, the neighbour? If the answer is the latter then why has the owner been so quiet at a time when there has been such a lot of media noise on the subject of this veterinarian who likes to kill animals?
For the time being and for the purposes of this article I will presume that Tiger did have an owner and I will call her Mrs A for the sake of convenience.
Mrs A could make an application to the Small Claims Court in the state of Texas for compensation including putative damages, but not including damages for emotional distress, under the torts of trespass to chattels and/or conversion. There may be other torts in America which apply in this instance of which I’m unaware.
A “tort” is a civil wrong. The concept is that if somebody does something wrong then under the common law the person who is wronged can seek compensation if applicable. The law for these matters is “judge made” meaning over a couple of centuries there have been many cases and judges decisions form the basis of the law.
In CHAPMAN v. DECROW [93 Me. 378, 45 A. 295 (1899)], it was held that, in common law, “a dog is property, for an injury to which an action will lie”. The same must apply to a cat. This means a cat owner can seek compensation if someone hurts their cat.
In Carroll v. Rock [469 S.E.2d 391 (Ga. App., 1996)] punitive damages are recoverable only when a defendant acts maliciously, wilfully, or with a wanton disregard of the rights of others”. Lindsey’s actions indicated a wanton disregard for the rights of her neighbour and this case would apply as a precedent and support an application for putative damages.
It is not possible to seek damages for emotional distress suffered due of the wanton killing of your pet because the Texas Supreme Court ruled against this form of damages in the case of Strickland v. Medlen, [S.W.3d (Tex.2013) (No. 12-0047; 4-5-13)]. Although, in other states where the actions of the defendant are wilful and demonstrate a wanton disregard for the plaintiff then it is possible to claim damages for emotional distress so this aspect of the claim is somewhat in the balance. If I were the owner of Tiger I would claim damages for emotional distress as well even though this is Texas because the circumstances are particularly outrageous.
I have briefly covered the concept of making a claim through the courts for compensation for the loss of Tiger through the wanton and wilful act of a young female veterinarian. The key as to whether this is workable is the obvious, namely does Tiger have an owner and will he or she speak up and take action? Another possibility is that the Lindsey family have already spoken to the owner and compensated her although this is unlikely.
An animal rescue group says that the cat who was killed was not feral. It was owned by an elderly couple. This seems very plausible because all the photos of Tiger tell us he was a domestic cat who was cared for. The lack of action by his owners also indicates the owners are elderly and are perhaps somewhat perplexed and confused by the whole thing.
Someone should talk to Tiger’s owners. A good lawyer should work pro bono (for free) to take this to the civil courts. If I was there, I would.
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