According to the Animal Law Center's Jennifer Edwards, most courts ruling on wrongful death lawsuits regarding pets tend to base judgment amounts on replacement value -- the cost of buying a new animal of the same breed. But Edwards says Dr. Scott Evans received far more than that after having to watch helplessly as his beloved dog, Asha, was electrocuted in front of him.
The incident took place in October 2009 near Evans' offices. He was walking Asha past a construction site for a new parking lot. According to Edwards, a contractor drove rebar into the ground near an underground power line, inadvertently conducting electricity to the surface of the gravel-covered lot, as well as the structure itself. And as a result, Asha and Evans were jolted with an estimated 277 volts of electricity.
Dr. Scott Evans and Asha.
Evans wasn't seriously injured by the shock he received, but Asha died en route to a veterinary clinic.
In Edwards's view, this tragic result underscores that "contractors and subcontractors need to be more careful. There were reports that they feared the rebar they were using was too long, and they had some questions about whether they should be using it -- but they used it anyway. And while it was very unfortunate that this happened to Asha, the same thing could have happened to a little child, or even an adult. There was an immense amount of power traveling to the parking lot structure. So anyone could have been the victim of this. It just happened to be Asha that suffered."
Evans did as well. "He went through a significant amount of therapy to try to rectify what happened in his mind," she stresses. "He was truly traumatized after watching Asha be electrocuted."
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Last September, the Animal Law Clinic filed suit on Evans's behalf against the lot's contractors, Sabell's Enterprises, LLP and Palace Construction Co., Inc. And while the specific settlement amount isn't being made public, Edwards says "it was well beyond replacement value -- which recognized that Asha was worth more than a chair in your living room. She had value as a member of the family."
The case also offered compensation for the emotional distress suffered by Evans -- and Edwards believes it serves as a reminder to contractors "to call before they dig. They need to use extreme caution and care when installing things like these parking lot systems, so this doesn't happen again to anyone or anything."
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