$240K settles pet food suit
About 2,000 dog and cat owners in Hawaii have won a $240,000 settlement in a class-action lawsuit against the manufacturer of contaminated pet food.
"The settlement is extremely significant because it's the first settlement in the United States brought on behalf of pet owners," said Honolulu attorney Tom Grande yesterday at a news briefing at the Bark Park at Diamond Head.
The settlement was reached on behalf of about 2,000 consumers who purchased tainted pet food manufactured by Menu Foods, a Canadian-based company. It also includes those who have taken their pet to a veterinarian for an evaluation following consumption of the recalled pet food.
The remaining 120 class-action cases filed across the United States and Canada were consolidated in New Jersey, which leaves each state and province to compete for a limited amount of funds, Grande said.
He and attorney Emily Gardner said they pursued the litigation separately from the mainland to ensure recovery for Hawaii pet owners. "In the national settlement, if there's any money left over, there's no guarantee that our state would get its fair share," Grande said.
The Hawaii settlement does not include owners of pets who became ill or died as a result of consuming the contaminated food. Ten cases -- seven pets that died and three pets that suffered a severe illness -- against Menu Foods are set to go to trial in April, said Gardner, who is representing the pet owners.
Dog and cat foods manufactured by Menu Foods between Nov. 8, 2006, and March 6, 2007, allegedly contained contaminated wheat flour that was mislabeled as wheat gluten.
About 220 products under Menu Foods were believed to be contaminated. Garner said not all products were sold in Hawaii.
Pet owners are required to file a claim with receipts of the recalled pet food and veterinarian visits. Owners can recover up to $300 per pet for the amount of recalled pet food purchased and up to $150 per pet for each veterinarian examination linked to the consumption of the recalled food.
The deadline to submit a claim is July 17. Unclaimed funds will be donated to humane societies in the state.