Eltopian man awarded over $36,000 for wrongful death of his dog - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Eltopian man awarded over $36,000 for wrongful death of his dog

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ELTOPIA, WA - On August 3rd, 2016, a 12-person Franklin County Superior Court jury awarded more than $36,000 to James Anderson, 56, of Eltopia for the wrongful death of his English springer spaniel, Chucky. Mr. Anderson, a disabled, former ironworker, filed a lawsuit against Scott and Lori Hayles, and their three sons.

Mr. Anderson has never been married and has no children. Chucky was “like a kid” to him. He trained Chucky on average five hours a day from the age of six months (Chucky died at about 7); hunted with him about 200 days a year; taught him how to ride on a quad, a motorcycle, and to climb ladders; and taught him a 100-word vocabulary. Chucky took top ranking at several local events, such as the Top Dog and Dock Dog contests, as well as the hound club field trials and coyote buddy hunt. He was Mr. Anderson’s closest friend, particularly given that Mr. Anderson might not have had a visitor or a phone call for 7-10 days at a time.

On Mar. 9, 2014, Mr. Hayles and his three sons were trapshooting from the Hayleses property. Chucky, a hunting dog, was drawn from next door (where Mr. Anderson lived) to the gunfire. He did not return to his owner, despite his tendency to have separation anxiety when away from Mr. Anderson.

The next morning, after searching tirelessly, he found Chucky in an orchard, half dead.

Mr. Anderson rushed Chucky to Animal Hospital of Pasco where Andrianna Krippaehne examined him. She testified that his temperature and blood pressure were too low to be detected by her medical equipment. He was in shock, hypothermic, hypoglycemic, hypotensive, and very dehydrated. He had been shot by a bird shot, a BB, and a .177 cal. pellet. After stabilizing him, Dr. Krippaehne attempted to begin operation, but Chucky died soon after.

Former Franklin County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Kendrick Wong testified that on Mar. 10, 2014, he interviewed Mr. Hayles, explaining that Chucky was purportedly shot with a BB gun. Dep. Wong testified that Mr. Hayles told him that he did not have a BB gun. However, in the course of litigation, the Defendants admitted that on Mar. 9, 2014, they possessed a pneumatic weapon that could fire both BBs and pellets. It is undisputed that Mr. Hayles allowed two of his pre-teen sons to repeatedly fire 20ga and 410 shotguns during the trapshooting.

On August 3, the jury returned a verdict for Mr. Anderson, finding that one or more of the Defendants was liable for negligence, conversion, and fraudulent concealment and awarded Mr. Anderson $21,475 in veterinary bills ($636.60), mileage ($21.28), loss of use, and the intrinsic value of Chucky (who was purchased for $400 in 2007). They also awarded $15,000 for emotional distress to Mr. Anderson. While the jury found Mr. Anderson 20% comparatively negligent, that decision only applied to the negligence claim, not conversion and fraud.

It is believed that this is the largest jury verdict in Washington arising from the wrongful death of a dog.