Pet Food Companies Agree To $24 Million Settlement Over Killer Pet Food

After a two-week delay to make sure the language of the settlement met U.S. and Canadian law, about 30 pet food makers have agreed to pay out $24 million to customers whose pets were killed or injured in the tainted food fiasco a year ago. Victims will be reimbursed for expenses, including vet and burial/cremation bills. Additionally, “pet owners can request reimbursement for the cost or fair-market value—whichever is higher—of a deceased pet or one purchased in replacement. Owners who don’t have documentation of expenses can get as much as $900 each. All claims are subject to review.”

If approved, this will pretty much wrap up the saga of the melamine-tainted pet food, and teach pet food companies a hard lesson about enforcing stricter standards on their Chinese suppliers. According to the Wall Street Journal,

Among the companies settling the suit are Menu Foods Income Fund; Procter & Gamble Co., which makes Iams pet food; Colgate-Palmolive Co., maker of Hill’s; Nestle SA, maker of Purina; and Mars Inc., maker of Pedigree. Retailers including Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Target Corp., Petco Animal Supplies Inc. and PetSmart Inc. were also part of the suit.

The settlement has to be approved by a judge, and the court date is set for Friday, May 30th.

“Legal settlement reached in tainted pet food case” [Reuters UK]
(Photo: faster panda kill kill)

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  1. Bladefist says:

    I would want a lot more then my expenses. Someone people are very close to their pets. I would want emotional anxiety money. May sound frivolous, but, they’re right, those companies need to feel the pain.

  2. jwarner132 says:

    Great choice of pic.

  3. joshthephenom says:

    @Bladefist: I agree completely. Unfortunately the people that make laws don’t see it that way, and consider pets possessions, and therefore only worth what you paid for them, or what the cost would be to replace them. I think it’s absolutely absurd and that it needs to change.

  4. I think the CEOs should also have to verbally apologize, in person, to all the people (especially children) whose dear pets died.

  5. Bladefist says:

    @heavylee-again: I don’t remember the details of this story. If they knew about it, and still let it out the doors, I would say they are against some animal cruelty laws or something, and that would bring on jail time. If they didn’t know, – well then there isn’t much you can do but hit their bank account

  6. timmus says:

    Nice to see the pets chalked up as commodities. Who the hell hired these class action lawyers to begin with?

  7. timmus says:

    And yeah, $24 million spread out to 30 companies averages $800,000 a company. That’s chump change and will just ensure more “business as usual”. To reiterate: who hired these clowns?

  8. bohemian says:

    I totally disagree with the legal standpoint that pets are an item akin to a bookcase. But even if you take that legal standpoint that does not address the emotional toll this took on the human consumers. I read some really sad emotional stuff from people who had pets die or in veterinary hospitals and knowing that the fed their pets the poisoned food.

    The fact is that the supplier KNEW for quite a while about the tainted wheat gluten and purposely didn’t alert anyone until they were forced to. Their withholding of this information caused many people to purchase and feed taited food in that same time frame. There really needs to be some significant compensation or addressing of what this did to the people involved, let alone what it did to their pets.

  9. Mr_D says:

    @bohemian, as well as others: If pets aren’t objects, what are they? Legally, I mean. They’re not people, so…

    I can’t deny that there was some emotional value attached to these pets, but how can we put a price tag on it? Of course, I can’t deny that these companies were negligent. Perhaps something more is in order, but I can’t think of anything appropriate without opening the “lawsuits for emotions” and “pets are people too” cans of worms.

  10. ianmac47 says:

    Excellent, billion dollar corporations pay out a measly $24 million. Outsourcing production to China probably has saved them that many times over, so there really only is an incentive to keep buying sub par and unsafe products from Asia.

  11. Bladefist says:

    @ianmac47: Yes, but those savings are also passed down to you. However, many pet owners, including myself, would gladly pay more to have food made with a little more care, here in the US

  12. KhaiJB says:

    after this emerged we switched feeding our hounds over to the Raw Diet.. they’ve never been healthier or happier. costs a little more.. but it’s worth it if you are prepared to do it.

  13. Bladefist says:

    @KhaiJB: whats a raw diet? the wet food?

  14. KhaiJB says:

    @Bladefist: as it sounds.. Raw. raw bones, ground meat, a vegtable mix we make ourselves, chicken carcasses etc.

    a good site to look at is here – [www.barfworld.com]

  15. kerry says:

    @Mr_D: People sue for emotional distress all the time, usually in things like malpractice suits. Unfortunately, it’s hard to argue emotional damage when the victim was neither you nor a human relative.
    This story still makes me so sad when I think about it, I can’t imagine that vet bills + $900 would make up for the damage done. I suppose, at the very least, it’ll help someone pay for a new pet, perhaps even an abandoned or rescued animal in need of a good home.

  16. awolcfh5150 says:

    My g/f had a Persian cat that died because of this whole mess. Thousands of dollars were spent to try and keep the cat alive to no avail. I’m hoping she gets compensated nicely for this. We still have the food, and all the vet bills, along with the necropsy from the cat. After all is settled, I hope this corporate folks shrivel & die!

  17. Pro-Pain says:

    Thanks for killing my pet. Now who can I stab in the eyes with an icepik. You know it’s coming right? RIGHT???

  18. spinachdip says:

    I hope dog food execs find a special place in hell, where they find themselves allergic to trace amounts of cat dander and their pants are filled with red meat.

  19. Gann says:

    They could settle for a copy:

    [io9.com]

  20. christoj879 says:

    $900!!!! I see a moneymaker here!

  21. mrwilson says:

    I take no position on whether or not this is a good settlement for class members, and I have nothing to do with this case. However, some thoughts to consider when evaluating this or any class settlement: First, if you think you could do better that what the class remedy provides in an individual suit, you can just opt out of the settlement and sue individually. In addition, keep in mind that class action settlements are just that – settlements, meaning: compromises. For all any of us know, the defendants may have had good arguments that plaintiffs may not have been able to overcome, especially on class certification (e.g., defendants might have been able to convince the judge that because each pet death could have been attributable to causes other than bad pet food, those individualized issues might have made the case unsuitable for class certification). In fact, class cert in mass tort actions (involving people) are frequently denied for reasons just like that. So this might be about as well as the plaintiffs’ class action lawyers could do.

  22. wellfleet says:

    Pets have no value and are invaluable at the same time. My dog means nothing to my boss, but means the world to me. I would have liked to be compensated for vet bills, especially if the animal subsequently died.
    Since we’ve owned our dog, I bet we’ve spent a few thousand in just over a year in care for him. We feed him Pet Promise, it’s organic, no by-products, no rendered meat, no garbage… prolly better than what I eat…

  23. ConsumerAdvocacy1010 says:

    @Mr_D: But it’s a double standard. If I took a gun and shot someone’s pet, it’s considered murder. Even worse if it’s a police dog. Anyone care to tell me how you murder an object?

    Where’s PETA when you need ‘em?

  24. candes says:

    I can still recall the night that I called the self proclaimed, “innocent” Purina company. My intention was to not argue with them about nearly killing my cat, but to get them to reexamine thir pet food. To prevent other animals from getting sick or dying. The woman was actually rude to me. That woman had me hanging up the phone feeling like a shmuck instead of a good samaritin. Seriously………

    The next day, I threw away all my Puria food, and sat back and waited. Yup, their food ended up being affectd also. (My poor kitty already knew that. ) But, then again Purina got to sell more food in the meanwhile. So it was in their best finacial interest not to listen. Too bad about your pets…. :(

  25. sr105 says:

    I actually find that picture to be in poor taste since it makes light of the terrible deaths of the pets. The picture by being cute is a joke, and making a joke of a poisoned family pet is just not cool.

  26. avconsumer says:

    Nice. So, had my two rescued mutts (and BIG part of my life) gone to puppy heaven – I’d get some pocket change. Welp – good thing they didn’t – this would add insult to injury and I’d probably seek…. other means of recompense/revenge.

  27. @ConsumerAdvocacy1010: Where is killing a pet murder?

    @mrwilson: Not sure it would have been that difficult to cert the class under these circumstances. The damages are pretty much the same from person to person, and as long as they have something to prove it was the dog food, they’re good. And if they cert under the Rule I think they would, they could not opt out. you’re either part of the class action, or you can’t do anything about it.

  28. KhaiJB says:

    @ConsumerAdvocacy1010:

    PETA?? gods you do NOT want them involved. they do more harm than good.