Sunday, May 02, 2010

Dodo Justice

For a (legal) fight about the "[allegedly] wrongful exhumation and cremation of Dodo, a mixed breed dog who emigrated with plaintiff from China to the United States," see Man Hung Lee v. Hartsdale Canine Cemetery, Inc., --- N.Y.S.2d ----, 2010 WL 1704846, N.Y.City Ct., Apr 26, 2010. The trial judge observed that "[p]laintiff's affection for Dodo and her commitment to spend money for the care and well-being of her dog was further shown by proof that in the past she had expended ten-thousand dollars for the surgical implant of a pacemaker inside Dodo." Id. n. 1. The trial judge further noted that the New York legislature (not having had more important business to attend to at the time) had solemnly declared:
The legislature hereby finds and declares that the relationships that humans develop with other members of the animal kingdom that are taken into our homes and kept as pets are unique and special. These relationships can enrich our lives and increase our happiness. Even after the death of a pet, human attachment to the memory of the pet often remains very strong and many people feel the need to memorialize their love for their animal by burying their pet in a pet cemetery. Pet cemeteries, their managers and owners have a special responsibility to their customers who have entrusted their pets' remains with them. These pet cemeteries have a duty to act in an ethical and lawful manner to prevent grieving pet owners from experiencing further any emotional pain or financial manipulation. Perpetrations of fraud against grieving pet owners are unconscionable.

The legislature further finds and declares that the people of this State have a vital interest in the establishment, maintenance and preservation of pet cemeteries and pet crematoriums and the proper operation of the businesses and individuals which own and manage same. This article is determined an exercise of the police powers of this State to protect the well-being of our citizens, to promote the public welfare, to promote the health of the public and to prevent pet cemeteries and pet crematoriums from falling into disrepair and dilapidation and becoming a burden on the community."

Wigmore's wisdom (and mine) -- about the probative force of circumstantial evidence -- was enlisted by the trial judge to help resolve the dispute.
  • The pet cemetery counterclaimed for breach of contract.
  • Sadly, Dodo -- or, in any event, her former owner -- lost. The pet cemetery prevailed on its counterclaim: "[D]efendant has established by a preponderance of the evidence the existence of an enforceable agreement to pay a yearly charge for the annual care of Dodo's plot and plaintiff's breach thereof. Judgment awarded on defendant's counterclaim in the sum of one-hundred and forty-five dollars, this amount representing unpaid fees for annual care between 2001-2004."


    The dynamic evidence page

    It's here: the law of evidence on Spindle Law. See also this post and this post.