Man ordered to pay $26,400 for shooting dog
June 8, 2012
Steamboat Springs — A Routt County jury on Friday decided Del Herman should have to pay $26,400 to the Arnone family for the March 2011 shooting and killing of their dog, Duke.
The civil trial started Monday, a year after Herman pleaded no contest in criminal court to shooting the dog and was sentenced to 10 days in Routt County Jail. The six-person jury began deliberating Thursday afternoon and delivered its verdict at 11 a.m. Friday.
The jury gave $5,000 each in punitive damages to Pat and Leah Arnone and their daughter, Tess. Punitive damages serve to punish the defendant for his actions and to send a message to the community.
Noneconomic damages of $3,000 were given to each of the family members for pain, suffering and the sentimental value of Duke.
Leah Arnone and Tess each were awarded $1,200 in economic damages to cover the costs related to therapy.
Pat Arnone was not awarded economic damages. He was hoping to recover the costs of moving his family to a home away from Herman, who was a nearby neighbor when Duke was shot.
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Herman refused to comment after the verdict.
"Mr. Herman respects the outcome and truly appreciates the jury's service in this case," his attorney, Reed Morris, of The Law Office of Ralph A. Cantafio, wrote in a statement.
The Arnone family also referred questions to their primary attorney, Grant Bursek, with Oliphant & Associates.
"With today's verdict, the Arnone family will hopefully find closure and be able to put this horrific situation behind them," Bursek wrote in a statement. "A message was sent to Mr. Herman and the community that violence against family pets is not acceptable because of the emotional bond we share with them."
Members of the jury did not want to comment publicly about the verdict.
The verdict of $9,000 for the noneconomic damages related to pain, suffering and the loss of sentimental property of Duke was within the range of $7,500 to $15,000 that Herman's attorney told jurors during closing arguments was reasonable.
The attorneys representing the Arnones never proposed dollar amounts to the jury, but according to court documents, the family was seeking as much as $250,000 for the loss of sentimental property. In addition, Pat Arnone was requesting about $100,000 in losses and costs incurred by selling their home and moving.
Morris said the jury's award of $26,400 could end up being decreased. He said that according to Colorado law, the punitive damages awarded of $15,000 can not exceed the actual damages awarded, which were $11,400, meaning Herman could end up paying $22,800.
"We're going to take a look at those things," Morris said.