Appeal from Harris County Civil Court at Law No. 4 Harris
County, Texas Trial Court Case No. 1007020
consists of Justices Jennings, Higley, and Massengale.
Carter Higley Justice.
Benton sued Donald Laird for negligence to recover veterinary
charges she incurred after Laird's dog, which was off
leash in a public park, attacked Benton's dog and tore
off part of her dog's ear. The jury found Laird liable
for negligence and awarded Benton $717.13, the amount she
incurred in veterinary charges to repair her dog's ear.
In two issues, Laird challenges the trial court's
judgment. He contends that the damages award was based on an
incorrect measure of damages and that Benton did not offer
sufficient damages evidence.
appeal fails to challenge the legal standard in the jury
instructions, which authorized the jury to award damages for
the "cost of repairs" to the dog without reference
to the diminished value of the dog. Laird also failed to
preserve any objection to the jury instructions in the trial
court. Accordingly, we affirm.
2011, Monica Benton and her family owned a dog, a pure-bred
Weimaraner, named Bridger. Bridger was the family's pet
and also a trained hunting dog.
she worked full-time, Monica hired a dog-walking company to
exercise Bridger. On January 6, 2011, an employee of the
company, Nicholas Viator, took Bridger to Memorial Park for a
walk. Viator would later testify that he had Bridger on a
leash the entire time they were at the park.
were ending their walk in the park, Viator and Bridger
encountered Donald Laird and his two dogs: a 70-pound Boxer
and a 106-pound American Bulldog named Minnie. Laird's
Boxer was on a leash but Minnie was off leash. Viator asked
Laird to put Minnie on a leash, but Laird did not respond.
Viator turned to avoid crossing paths with Laird, but Minnie
ran toward Bridger and attacked him. During the attack,
Minnie bit Bridger on the head and tore off part of
would later testify to a different version of what had
occurred at the park. Laird admitted that he did not have
Minnie on a leash, and he acknowledged that Minnie had run
toward Bridger. However, Laird claimed that Minnie was a
friendly dog and had run toward Bridger only because she
wanted to play with him. Laird claimed that Bridger had then
attacked Minnie, biting her on her throat. Laird claimed that
Minnie never bit Bridger.
was taken from the park to his veterinarian. The veterinarian
was able to suture the laceration of Bridger's ear but
could not reattach the part of the ear that had been torn
off. The veterinarian charged $717.13 to treat Bridger's
injured ear, and the Bentons paid the bill. Monica Benton
sued Laird for negligence, seeking to recover the cost of the
case was tried to a jury in May 2016. Benton was represented by
counsel in the trial court proceedings, and Laird acted pro
se. As mentioned, Viator and Laird testified at trial
regarding what had occurred at the park. Viator stated that
Minnie had attacked Bridger and tore his ear, and Laird
claimed that Bridger had bit Minnie when she ran up to him to
also testified at trial. She stated that her family had
adopted Bridger from a shelter, paying a $75 adoption fee.
When they had adopted Bridger, Benton had wanted a pet for
her two children, and her husband had wanted a hunting dog.
They had agreed that Bridger would serve both purposes.
testified that they had Bridger trained to be a hunting dog,
paying $2, 500 for his training. She testified that, after
being trained, Bridger did "amazingly well" as
hunting dog and that Bridger had competed in ...