The defendant in this case said she did not intend to cause the plaintiff any pain by stealing his foot, and that seems plausible since it wasn't attached at the time. The plaintiff was quite seriously injured in a 2008 crash on I-95 in Florida, and had to be airlifted to a hospital. About an hour later, the defendant, a firefighter/paramedic who had been called to the scene, found the foot in the wreckage. Well, she found something.
"It was an unrecognizable mass of flesh," she told a court. "You couldn't even recognize it as a foot." This mattered because she was responding to a suggestion that doctors might have been able to reattach the foot had she not taken it home with her.
She had a perfectly good explanation for why she did that, though, saying that her dog was, or she was training it to be, a "body-recovery dog" that could assist when responding to disasters. (It's not like you can go pick up a foot at Petco for training purposes, you know.) I haven't seen any reports suggesting that the foot actually could have been reattached, but the plaintiff probably would have appreciated being asked if he wanted to donate, I imagine. Ultimately, defendant was charged with second-degree theft in the incident and was sentenced to six months of probation, and that conviction is likely the basis for the civil lawsuit filed last week. Plaintiff is seeking unspecified damages for emotional distress.
The last severed-limb legal battle I reported on — you didn't really think this would be the first one, did you? — was a 2007 incident in which John Wood was trying to get his leg back from Shannon Whisnant. Whisnant found the leg inside a barbecue smoker he bought at an auction, and quickly realized he had a publicity gold mine on his hands. Wood got upset when he learned Whisnant was charging people to look at his former part (this happened in rural North Carolina, where they may be a little short on entertainment), and a custody battle followed.
That one was ultimately resolved by TV's Judge Greg Mathis, who ordered the leg be returned but refused to award any damages. That type of Solomonic (or maybe "Solomoronic" is the right term here) resolution may not be possible here, lthough that might depend on how the training went.