4th of July Tragedy
Started by xcribe , Aug 19 2013 02:30 PM
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4 replies to this topic
Posted 19 August 2013 - 02:30 PM
I live on ranch property in rural Sacramento, California. Every evening from 6pm until sunset I am outdoors doing chores and letting the dogs run and play while I feed livestock and tend the yard and garden. We are always back indoors by sunset, with the dogs. On the 4th of July, the fireworks show at Cal Expo began approximately 10 minutes before the sky was dark enough to see the display. Sound travels across the rural landscape, making the fireworks detonations very loud. One of my dogs was frightened and bolted across the field and onto Jackson Highway, where she was killed.
For six weeks, my grief has been overwhelming. I have pronounced myself guilty of negligence for not getting the dogs indoors before the fireworks began, as has been my practice in the past. I have had suicidal thoughts and have berated myself nonstop for my casual insistence on taking five more minutes to finish my chores while the dog was clearly exhibiting distress. The possibility that the dog might bolt never entered my mind. When she suddenly took off running toward the road, I jumped on my mountain bike and took chase. She could not hear me calling her over the sound of the fireworks. I was about 100 feet behind her and watched helplessly as she was hit and killed. By the time I arrived at the scene of the accident, it was just past sunset.
Today, I came to realize that I was not negligent in protecting the dog?s safety. I was performing the same tasks that are done every evening. It was the fireworks display that started before sunset that is responsible for the death of my beloved 8-year-old Australian Sheppard. I always have the dogs indoors before sunset, especially on the 4th of July. Why was a url fireworks show begun before the sky was even dark?
As I am self-employed and work out of my home, the dog was my constant companion. We were looking forward to another ten years of love and laughter together. My world is shattered. I have been unable to function and unable to focus on my work. I am suffering from post traumatic stress and am currently in therapy for my grief and suicidal ideation. I am deeply depressed and have withdrawn from friends and family. I cannot drive down Jackson Road without becoming hysterical near the site of my dog?s death. I cannot enjoy my evenings outdoors and spend most of my time in tears.
I want to sue the parties responsible for starting the fireworks show too early to even be seen by the spectators. I will suffer for that illogical decision every day for the rest of my life, and a beautiful, happy, loving, innocent animal has had her life cut by half unnecessarily.
Posted 19 August 2013 - 02:47 PM
You didn't ask (all you asked was "why was a fireworks show begun before the sky was even dark?" which, frankly, isn't relevant) but, I'm sorry, but there's no cause of action here. You really need to talk with a grief counselor/grief group.
I'll echo PG's advisory "warning" with a twist: (Many) legal issues are complicated. Explanations and comments here might not fully identify or explain the ramifications of your particular problem. I do not give legal advice as such (and such is impermissible here at any rate). Comments are based on personal knowledge and experience and legal info gleaned over a quarter century, and every state has differing laws on and avenues to address most topics. If you need legal advice, you need to consult (and pay) a professional so that you may have someone to hold accountable. Acting on personal and informational advice from a stranger on the internet is a bad idea -- at least not without your own thorough due dilience/research and confirmation as it applies to your situation.
Posted 19 August 2013 - 03:09 PM
Why was a fireworks show begun before the sky was even dark?
This is the one and only question in your post, and I certainly hope you understand that no one on this board has the slightest idea what the answer is. I also assume it goes without saying that others probably disagree with your assessment that "the sky was [not] dark enough to see the [fireworks] display" (indeed, there are videos online that contradict your assertion).
In any event, if the point of your post was to obtain commentary on a possible lawsuit against whomever put on the fireworks show, I agree with the prior response. I don't know how far you were from the location of the show or from the highway. However, you clearly live a good distance from the highway if you couldn't catch up to your dog on a motorcycle. No one would foresee such an extreme reaction and, indeed, it seems far more likely that your dog kept running because it was spooked by you chasing it on a noisy(??) motorcycle than by fireworks in the sky. Sorry....
Posted 19 August 2013 - 07:32 PM
I assume you wanted to know if you?d have a good lawsuit against the entity or persons who organized the fireworks. Certainly in most states the answer to that would be no, assuming of course that the fireworks display was legally held. Even in a liberal state like California that recognizes more causes of action than most states, I?m willing to bet this one wouldn?t fly. The fact that the display started earlier than you anticipated would not be sufficient in itself to constitute negligence.
Moreover, your post suggests that the fireworks had being going on for at least some period of time before the dog bolted, as you say that you made the decision to take ?five more minutes to finish my chores while the dog was clearly exhibiting distress.? So you evidently knew the fireworks had started, knew the dog was upset by it, but continued your chores anyway until the dog bolted a few minutes later. The fireworks organizers are not responsible for your delay in bringing the dog inside, a delay which apparently contributed to what occurred.
Also, in at least most states, you?d not get much from a lawsuit on this even if there was a good cause of action. Generally speaking, pets are treated like personal property under the law, that is, like a TV, computer, chair, etc. The loss of personal property typically entitles you to recover no more than the fair market value of the property right before it was damaged or destroyed. Most pets have little or no market value ? it?s hard to even give most animals away, let alone sell them for any significant amount. The loss of personal property would not, in most states, allow you to get damages for emotional distress over the loss. Generally speaking, such damages are limited to circumstances involving personal injury to you or someone close to you that you witnessed, or in some states harm resulting from an act of the plaintiff that was so outrageous that it would shock the conscience of the ordinary person. Starting a fireworks display early wouldn?t come close to an act that most people would find in the least outrageous, let alone so outrageous that it would shock their conscience. California is a little more liberal on damages for the loss of pets, but even in that state I?m not sure that you?d get much in damages here even if there had been negligence.
My condolences on the loss of your pet. Unfortunately, however, the law likely doesn?t offer you any recourse against the fireworks organizers for this. Given the level of distress you seem to have at a result of the pet?s death, you may want to seek some counseling to help you get through the grief. Having suicidal thoughts and being unable to function are not normal reactions when grieving the loss of a pet, and that indicates there may be other issues that you need to deal with. My best wishes to you in working through that grief.
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