Two Hawai'i Lawsuits Filed Today Tied to Pet Food Recall
By: Honolulu Advertiser
Two lawsuits were filed today in Circuit Court on behalf of Hawai'i pet owners and consumers affected by the massive pet-food recall initiated in mid-March.
In both cases, pet food manufacturer Menu Foods, manufacturer of about 100 brands of dog and cat food - ranging from Iams to Eukanuba - is named as the defendant.
A lawsuit filed by Hawai'i animal law attorney Emily A. Gardner is a multiparty personal injury suit on behalf of Hawai'i pet owners who suffered the death or severe illness of a pet.
The other suit is a consumer class-action suit for Hawai'i consumers who purchased the tainted pet foods. It was filed by attorney Thomas Grande of the Davis, Levin, Livingston and Grande law firm and Gardner.
The suits maintain that Menu Foods products manufactured between Dec. 3 and March 6 are suspected to have been tainted by contaminated wheat flour, mislabeled as wheat gluten or rice protein concentrate. The flour was reportedly purchased by Menu Foods from two sources in China.
In news reports issued this week, Dr. David Acheson, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's assistant commissioner for food protection, said officials suspect melamine and cyuranic acid were mixed into the flour because the nitrogen-rich compounds would make the flour appear to contain additional protein. Melamine is a molecule used to manufacture cooking utensils and has no approved use in human or animal food in the United States. Cyuranic acid is a chemical used in swimming pools.
Menu Foods has reportedly admitted that the flour was not tested to ensure that it was safe for consumption by dogs and cats.
Menu Foods' recall on March 16 was prompted by reported cases of cats and dogs that developed kidney failure after eating the affected products. The Food and Drug Administration received more than 14,000 such reports in the four weeks following the start of the mid-March recall.
"Menu Foods clearly failed to ensure the safety of a major ingredient it used in many of its products," Gardner said in a news release issued today. "In the last few weeks, I've spoken with numerous Hawai'i families who are just devastated by this."
David Pang, one of the plaintiffs in the multiparty personal injury suit, said he was broken-hearted over the death of his dog, Kuma, who died after eating the contaminated pet food.
"They're a multimillion-dollar company with the health of millions of America's dogs in their hands, and the feelings of millions of families. They should be held accountable for what they did," Pang said.
The consumer class-action suit seeks the return of the monies spent by consumers for the tainted pet food and the costs of veterinary screening examinations for any pet that consumed the contaminated food.
Attorney Grande said: "Hawai'i's pet owners were deceived. As North America's leading pet food manufacturer, Menu Foods failed to make sure its products were safe."