Monday, April 23, 2007

Pet Food Class Action Lawsuits

In-depth article in yesterday's Philadelphia Inquirer about the mounting litigation concerning contaminated pet food -- Chasing Justice in Pet Food Lawsuits.  The article by Emilie Lounsberry notes that at least 50 class actions have been filed, largely in New Jersey where primary defendant Menu Foods has a plant.  In addition to lawyers specializing in animal rights, according to the article, "[t]he recall also has drawn lawyers who specialize in class-action and mass-tort cases involving injury to complainants of the two-legged variety, such as the gargantuan litigation over the diet drug fen-phen and the pain reliever Vioxx."  Indeed, it sound like the litigation is shaping up much like other mass tort litigation, with claims for medical expenses, medical monitoring, and emotional distress (which would require a significant shift in the law's treatment of animals).  Here's an excerpt:

Attorneys for hundreds of pet owners nationwide already have taken aim at some of the companies that have recalled more than 120 varieties of dog and cat food since March 16. By far, the target of choice is Menu Foods Inc., the Canada-based manufacturer of about 100 of the tainted product lines.

As of Friday, at least 50 class-action lawsuits had been filed in federal courts; most are in New Jersey, where Menu has a Pennsauken plant. State courts are likely to be hit, too. For while the Food and Drug Administration has confirmed only 16 deaths, informal tallies by veterinary groups and pet Web sites put fatalities above 3,000, with possibly 10,000 more sickened after eating batches made with melamine-tainted wheat gluten from China.

Only days ago, panic struck again with the recall of rice protein, also from China, shipped to U.S. pet-food makers. The importer said it, too, might contain melamine, used in fertilizers and plastics.

"It's just getting bigger and bigger," said Casey Srogoncik, a Northeast Philadelphia lawyer who is gathering up clients.

The owners' lawsuits seek compensation for costs ranging from burials to ongoing care of survivors. State Rep. Mark Cohen and his wife, Mona, of Northeast Philadelphia, nearly lost their Yorkie bichon, Cookie. They've joined a federal class-action lawsuit that, while typically not stating a specific dollar amount, asks for such relief as a fund for medical monitoring and treatment of lingering health problems.

...

But the big-ticket question is not who will pay the vet bills, legal experts say. It's whether owners will be entitled to damages for emotional distress.

HME

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/mass_tort_litigation/2007/04/pet_food_class_.html

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» How To Protect Your Company From Bad China Product from China Law Blog
We have received a huge number of e-mails from readers and phone calls from clients regarding issues arising from the recent melamine pet food tainting. We not only represent a number of companies involved with China food, we also represent many import... [Read More]

Tracked on Jun 6, 2007 8:53:02 AM

» How To Protect Your Company From Bad China Product from China Law Blog
We have received many e-mails from readers and phone calls from clients regarding issues arising from the recent melamine pet food tainting. We not only represent a number of companies involved with China food, we also represent many importers of Chine... [Read More]

Tracked on Jul 3, 2007 7:11:32 PM

Comments

For anybody who hasn't written a final exam yet for Civil Procedure, this case (with a little invention) can spin off an infinite number of exam questions: subject matter jurisdiction; class actions; discovery; preclusion; Erie. It also is great for choice of law.

Posted by: Beth Thornburg | May 8, 2007 11:47:06 AM

Our Aussi died suddenly of kidney failureshortly aft-
er visiting the vet for routine healthcare
around Thanksgiving 2006, and we believe that
he was among the first to expire from tainted
dog food. Our dog had eaten a brand of dog food he wasn't normally given. The vet was perplexed and asked if
perhaps the animal had been poisoned. Let's
get rid of this damned unregulated third world crap being
imported into our nation.
Somebody please direct me to a
class action suit.

Posted by: Paul | May 18, 2007 10:04:25 PM

I lost my beloved Roxy Angel who was a beautiful 5 year old Maltese to dog food poisoning of melamine. The food was bought at ACME markets in Sicklerville, NJ. Could someone please tell me why these stores are still shelving this food to kill our beloved pets? I would also like to know why "Happy Tails" company did not pull their product. THEY HAD TO KNOW THAT THE PRODUCT WAS A CONTAMINANT! These people have no respect for life. My dog was a perfectly healthy and happy little dog. I am angry that someone made a decision to so mercilessly kill her. MY family and all who knew her are devastated. I will not stop until all who are responsible are brought to justice.

Posted by: Rhonda Oliver | Dec 2, 2007 10:26:04 PM

My dear little persian Hildie lost her life after eating Nutro Max Cat Gourmet Classics last March 5th 2007. I still have some of the unopened packets and never could find anyone to talk to, I was and still am grieving for my sweet little one. I am angry as I did not know anything until after she died and was in her grave! Will we ever be able to trust any food source again, I doubt it if people keep making money any way they can, even if many of us or our animals die in the process.

Posted by: Denise Underwood | Feb 18, 2008 12:18:26 AM

I lost my Australian Shepherd on 2/6/07 after he was put on Hill's Urinary SO for a few weeks. It was terribly painful for him.

I would like to pursue those responsible in a lawsuit and seek guidance on where to look. I have copies of all records. There is no doubt as to why I lost "Boomer."

Steve Kime
703 222 8253

Posted by: Steve Kime | Feb 20, 2008 9:10:31 AM

There is so much of this going on these days, how do we honestly know what kind of food to trust??

Posted by: Dog Beds | Apr 27, 2008 9:23:55 AM

I lost both of my kitties from stomach cancer and renal failure. They ate Hills cat food and also ate3 Nutro Max Cat Gourment. The died horrible deaths and in alot of pain. Could someone send me the information to file a lawsuit. I can't seem to find anything .Please send the information to my sisters Email. Thank-You so much.

Posted by: Jacque Green | Jul 9, 2008 6:28:33 PM

In January of 2007 I had to put down my beloved Yorkie, Eddie. He was just 3 days short of being 5 years old. He had kidney and renal failure. In late March of 2007 the news came out about Menu Foods recall. I still had the left over cans of dog food and a bag of dry dog food. They were Nutro Ultra, a somewhat expensive dog food that was recommended to me by the pet store I shopped at. I immediately notified Menu Foods and was told that I would receive a call within 3 days, on day 5 I called again and was told they were returning the calls as soon as they could. Later I found out the courts would not allow them to speak with any consumers. I have contacted several litigation attorneys who seem to be invloved with the class action suit with no reply from anyone! Although nothing can replace Eddie, I feel I owe it to all pet owners to continue to pursue information and spread the word!

Posted by: Tracy Barkley | Jul 30, 2008 5:07:29 AM

I still have some unopened packet of SophistaCat Supreme Ocean Whitefish Tuna in Sauce. Our cat died from lymphoma about 1 year and 1 month ago. We had been feeding him this diet for years. I spent thousands of dollars trying to cure Gryf. I am pissed if this food contributed to his demise. He sufered as did my wife, kids and me.

Posted by: steve dunn | Oct 16, 2008 6:59:38 PM

We also lost our miniture pincher. This was documented by our vet. What must we do to be included in the litigation?

Posted by: W.E. Jerman | Oct 25, 2008 6:22:33 AM

My doberman, Kayno was 11 years old and HEALTHY. He was very active and still playful. Although, he had a muscle condition in his legs called Myopathy. On occasion his legs would give out and he would fall. However, right around the time the Poison Dog Food came out, he at times seemed disoriented. I would let him out to go to the bathroom and he would come in and go on the floor right in front of me and looked like he didn't know what was going on. His legs gave out on him more and he kept falling ALOT over the course of 2 weeks. When I called the vet to ask if the Alpo Prime Cuts in Gravy was on the list of Poison Dog Foods, they said no. So, I assumed it was just the Myopathy and his disorientation was attributed to him getting older or a fluke thing. Over the 2 week course of time he progressively got worse. He got so bad, that I made an apt. with the vet. I ended up having to cancel that apt. and take him days sooner as my dog became paralized. He could not get up at all. On a Wednesday, I asked again if the dog food was on the list. The answer was no. When the vet saw my dog, he said that no matter how bad my dog's legs would have got from the Myopathy, he would never have lost full use of them. He believed he had a spinal injury, (this made absolutely no sense--a spinal injury from what???). He highly recommended us to have him put to sleep because his condition was so bad that at his age to have tests and surguries would be "inhumane". So we put him to sleep that Wednesday. That Saturday, his dog food came on the list. I firmly believe my dog was poisoned and had kidney failure which attributed to him falling and losing all use of his legs. I still have the cans of dog food, if someone can tell me who to contact.

Posted by: Jennifer Krivijanski | Nov 2, 2008 9:53:41 PM

Can pet owners join a class action lawsuit against pet food manufacturers in 2013? Our dog died April 3, 2013, was only 9, and we noticed a re-release of pet food recall list from FDA from 2007 on Yahoo News. He was our boy. Had classic symptoms of kidney disease. Our vet advised us to feed surviving Bishon Frise chicken and rice. Live in Ohio. Please help. No one should have to go through this, and the FDA and pet food companies MUST be held to stricter guidelines, it is a TRAVESTY! Thank you.

Posted by: Amy McCualsky | Apr 28, 2013 2:22:31 AM

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