Grim Pet Food Saga Spurs Early Class Action Lawsuits
Byline: Bill Bishop The Register-Guard
With a continuing rise in the number of pets harmed or killed by tainted pet food, the next inevitable phase of the calamity is unfolding: Lawsuits.
At least six class action suits already have been filed against Menu Foods, the Canadian firm that has recalled millions of servings of pet food that it manufactures for 42 brands of cat food and 53 brands of dog food sold nationwide.
In Oregon alone, at least 28 animals have died after eating the food - including five dogs in Springfield and one in Pleasant Hill, and two cats each in Eugene and Springfield and one in Pleasant Hill. Ill animals also have been listed in Veneta and Cottage Grove, according to the latest numbers from the Oregon Veterinary Medical Association.
"This is really tragic. It sounds like it is going to be really huge," said Michele Smith, an attorney with the Eugene firm of Johnson Clifton Larson & Schaller.
People with potential legal claims react in different ways, she said. Some wait until most of the facts are known. Others want to rush right to a lawyer, Smith said.
Pet owners such as Allan Hall of Eugene are not waiting. Hall said he has been angry since his 15-year-old dachshund, Tabbitha, died March 13, within days of eating food that was subject to the recall.
"This was my best friend for 15 years. I was with her since she was six weeks old," Hall said Thursday.
Hall compiled his veterinary records, got help from a retailer to get a copy of his receipt for the food and contacted the Food and Drug Administration to register his case. Then he got on the Internet to contact a law firm in Wisconsin that has filed a class action lawsuit.
"I am interested in joining a class action lawsuit," Hall said. "The only thing that will make me feel better is that this company will not make pet food again. That's what I want."
Smith said pet owners should save unused food portions, labels from containers, store receipts, veterinary reports and bills, along with photographs of their pet or other evidence that might bolster their legal claims. …