I've always had cats around. They are like children. I can definetly understand the mental anguish in losing them. I find that this ruling to be strange though. If it was intentional or the dog owner was careless then I could see a reason for this. But it was out of his control...well he wasn't in town at least.
Accidents do happen, our neighbours dog in Athabasca got hold of our 19 yr old cat and that was a sad affair. It broke it's leash and hung around its house, Patches was sunning herself in the wrong place at the wrong time. If the owners were there watching it all not doing anything...or even enjoying it yes! I'd drain them of 45000 if I could (that's more than I make in a year) but in this case it is out of everybodys hands.
The only thing this particular ruling would do is open a pandoras box of problems for the judicial system and tax money with an influx in people trying to cash in on pet issues. Some would be legit, but I bet 90% would be at least opportunism.
Mind you If any of my cats met a similar type of fate with a carless dog owner, that owner would be digging a bigger grave than I would.