Result: $24 million settlement
In re Pet Food Products Liability Litigation
Pet owners nationwide filed a class action lawsuit against pet food manufacturer Menu Foods, Inc. Pet owners believe that there are thousands of pets throughout the United States who ingested Menu Foods’ products and as a result became ill and/or died, causing their owners to incur substantial emotional distress as well as veterinary costs and related expenses.
Plaintiffs’ Factual Allegations
The complaint alleged that Menu Foods sold and distributed pet food that contained toxic substances for animals, including wheat gluten, which can cause liver and kidney dysfunction and failure, vomiting, jaundice, loss of appetite, and other health problems, including the death of the pet.
The complaint also alleged that Menu Foods failed to adequately notify consumers of the danger of their contaminated pet food even after injuries to and deaths of pets were reported by their owners.
Menu Foods has admitted that certain of their products were defective and caused injury and death to household pets. Plaintiffs alleged that Menu Foods either knew or should have known that their products were defective and presented a serious risk to the health and safety of animals prior to their recall.
Proposed Class in the Menu Foods Litigation
The plaintiffs brought the class action on behalf of themselves and all persons in the United States who purchased or incurred damages by the use of pet food produced, manufactured and/or distributed by Menu Foods that was or will be recalled including that produced from December 3, 2006 to March 6, 2007.
Plaintiffs sought a court-approved and supervised emergency notice warning plaintiffs and class members to immediately cease the use of Menu Foods’ products, including the provision of information on diagnosis and treatment of injuries, and an immediate removal of all potentially harmful products. Plaintiffs also sought actual and compensatory damages and out-of-pocket costs, including reimbursement of money spent on Menu Foods’ defective products.
December 2008 Update
On November 18, 2008, after a full-day Final Approval Hearing, Judge Hillman issued an Order and 65-page Opinion approving a $24 million settlement with Menu Foods and denying all objections to the Settlement. These documents can be accessed here.
The settlement covers expenses associated with pet deaths and illnesses, including veterinary costs, time missed from work to care for sick animals, replacement pets, burial expenses and property damaged by sick animals. The settlement does NOT reimburse pet owners for their own pain and suffering caused by injuries to their pets. Pet owners who did not save all their pet food receipts or veterinary bills can still request up to $900 for undocumented claims.
Appeals have since been filed by two separate objectors contesting final approval of the Settlement, and these appeals will postpone the payment of claims. No payments may be made on eligible claims until all appeals are resolved. It is uncertain how long these appeals will take to resolve, and the timing of resolving the appeals is not within the control of the parties or their counsel. It is not uncommon for appeals to take several months or even years to resolve.
If you have already sent in your Claim Form and would like to confirm that the Claims Administrator has received it, please visit http://www.petfoodsettlement.com/ and contact the Claims Administrator. In the blank box labeled “Message,” state the following: “Please confirm the receipt of my claim and send me my claim number.”
The law firm of Heffler, Radetich & Saitta LLP has been selected by the Court as Settlement Administrator, and as such they are responsible for mailing out notices about the settlement to known class member and processing all the settlement claim forms for this litigation. The notice and forms they may send you in the mail are the same as those found on the website.
Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP, is not affiliated in any way with Menu Foods, Inc., and any and all trademarks are used herein for informational purposes only.