Damages recoverable for harm or theft of assistance animal
(1) In addition to and not in lieu of any other penalty provided by state law, a person with a disability who uses an assistance animal or the owner of an assistance animal may bring an action for economic and noneconomic damages against any person who steals or, without provocation, attacks the assistance animal. The person with a disability or the owner may also bring an action for such damages against the owner of any animal that, without provocation, attacks an assistance animal. The action authorized by this subsection may be brought by the person with a disability or the owner even if the assistance animal was in the custody or under the supervision of another person when the theft or attack occurred.
(2) If the theft of or unprovoked attack on an assistance animal described in subsection (1) of this section results in the death of the animal or the animal is not returned or if injuries sustained in the theft or attack prevent the animal from returning to service as an assistance animal, the measure of economic damages shall include, but need not be limited to, the replacement value of an equally trained assistance animal, without any differentiation for the age or the experience of the animal. In addition, the person with a disability or the owner may recover any other costs and expenses, including, but not limited to, costs of temporary replacement assistance services, whether provided by another assistance animal or a person, incurred as a result of the theft of or injury to the animal.
(3) If the theft of or unprovoked attack on an assistance animal described in subsection (1) of this section results in injuries from which the animal recovers and returns to service, or if the animal is stolen but is recovered and returns to service, the measure of economic damages shall include, but need not be limited to, the veterinary medical expenses, costs of temporary replacement assistance services, whether provided by another assistance animal or a person, and any other costs and expenses incurred by the person with a disability or the owner as a result of the theft of or injury to the animal.
(4) A cause of action does not arise under this section if the person with a disability, the owner or the person having custody or supervision of the assistance animal was committing a criminal or civil trespass at the time of the theft of or attack on the assistance animal.
(5) The court shall award reasonable attorney fees to the prevailing plaintiff in an action under this section. The court may award reasonable attorney fees and expert witness fees incurred by a defendant who prevails in the action if the court determines that the plaintiff had no objectively reasonable basis for asserting a claim or no objectively reasonable basis for appealing an adverse decision of a trial court.
Note: 659A.141 (Damages recoverable for harm or theft of assistance animal) was added to and made a part of ORS chapter 659 by legislative action but was not added to ORS chapter 659A or any smaller series therein. See Preface to Oregon Revised Statutes for further explanation.
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