Pet Foods Product Liability Litigation
Berger Montague served as one of plaintiffs’ co-lead counsel in this multidistrict class action suit that sought to redress the harm resulting from the manufacture and sale of contaminated dog and cat food.
Certain defendants recalled wheat gluten and/or rice protein concentrate supplied for the manufacture of pet food and pet treat products, as well as pet food and treats that may have been manufactured with recalled wheat gluten and/or rice protein concentrate for sale to consumers in the United States and in Canada.
Class members claimed that they sustained damages as a result of the defendants’ actions, and have sought compensation including the cost of purchasing the recalled pet food products; veterinary expenses; and autopsy, necropsy, and burial expenses for their pets.
The case has been settled for $24 million. Many terms of the settlement are unique and highly beneficial to the class, including allowing class members to recover up to 100% of their economic damages without any limitation on the types of economic damages they may recover. For a complete description of the settlement and information on how to make a claim, please visit www.petfoodsettlement.com.
An appeal was filed regarding settlement approval. On December 16, 2010, the Appellate Court rendered a decision that upheld the settlement as fair, reasonable and adequate in all respects except one. While the settlement establishes a cash fund of $24 million to reimburse claims for all reasonable economic damages, the settlement limits claims for the purchase price of recalled pet food (“Purchase Claims”) to an aggregate maximum of $250,000. This means that if all Purchase Claims total more than $250,000, each Purchase Claim would be reduced to its proportionate share of $250,000.
The Appellate Court held that Judge Hillman “lacked the information necessary to determine whether the $250,000 allocated to Purchase Claims was fair, reasonable, and adequate.” The Appellate Court instructed Judge Hillman to reconsider whether the $250,000 allocated to Purchase Claims was fair, reasonable, and adequate and asked the settling parties to “either produce the relevant information or demonstrate that it is unavailable or that producing it would be unfeasible.” The settling parties are working together to resolve this remaining issue as quickly as possible.