If your pet has suffered kidney failure as a result of eating any foods recalled by Menu Foods, try to obtain the following information: where the food was purchased, type of food and any vet bills. If possible, keep any food packaging and contact a lawyer: Canadians, read on...
Menu Foods Ontario Class Action
Lawyer Jay Strosberg of Windsor, Ontario filed a class action suit on behalf of pet owners whose animals suffered kidney failure from food manufactured by Menu Foods. "My dog is part of the family so when I heard about this case, I decided that if I received one call from a pet owner, I would commence action," says Strosberg. "Pet owners deserve compensation."
Litigation commenced March 28th, 2007 and since then five or six class actions have been filed in Canada. "In Ontario you just need one plaintiff to represent a group of people and our class is defined as all persons in Canada who purchased the recalled pet food and fed it to their animals," says Strosberg. He believes that thousands of pet owners will qualify. Of hundreds of calls Strosberg has already received, almost 50% said their pets died.
"We will do our best to push this action forward as quickly as possible -- a judge has been assigned to case manage this class action," Strosberg adds. As for how long it will take, that mainly depends on how much time Menu Foods requires to prepare their materials.
Menu Foods has stated that it will pay vet bills. "I was on their website and there is a qualifier - you have to prove that harm was connected with their food - at this point we don't know what proof they need," he says. "The real question is what the pet owners will have to prove; I have no idea yet but the fact is that we have commenced the class action and our position will be that any offer to pay any expenses must be done with court oversight."
The Menu Foods recall may just be the tip of the iceberg when it comes to regulating pet food. "I think that when an industry demonstrates that it can't regulate itself the government should step in," says Strosberg. "It is surprising and worrisome and I think this incident will likely bring awareness to animal rights in general."
To Pet Food Owners: If your pet has suffered kidney failure as a result of eating any foods recalled by Menu Foods, Strosberg advises that you call his office with the following information: where the food was purchased, type of food and any vet bills. Retain medical records and keep notes of what happened and when. If possible, keep any food packaging.
British Columbia Class Action
Luciana Brasil is heading up a class action lawsuit filed on March 26, 2007 in BC Supreme Court against Menu Foods. She is also a dog owner. Vicki Joel, a Vancouver woman, is lead plaintiff in the case --her cat, Jessica-Marie, was healthy until she began feeding her Priority canned cat food in December of last year. Her cat became sick and died one month later. Brasil 's co-counsel in Manitoba has one client whose nine puppies died.
Brasil is hopeful that this lawsuit won't be long and drawn out. But the way a class action works in B.C. is different than say, Ontario. "Here we have to serve the defendants (Menu Foods) with a copy of the pleadings - the writ of summons and the statement of claim - then the defendants have some time to file their appearance," says Brasil. "In this case we are dealing with them in Ontario and the US so it will take more time." However, as time goes by and if the case gets certified, anyone who fits the class criteria will automatically be in. And people can choose to opt out. "We will also be aware of pet owner's expectations."
"We are hoping to get a resolution either through judgment of by way of negotiated settlement that will at the very least reimburse costs of food, vet bills and in the worst cases, cremate and bury their pets," says Brasil." I am also looking for compensation for pain and suffering; it must be so difficult for pet owners to see their loved ones slowly and some cases rapidly die when they have carefully chosen these foods."
Brasil explains that a class action is a behavior modification tool that allows an action to be brought about when an individual action is not economically feasible or not taken seriously.
Branch MacMaster has set up a website where people can fill in a questionnaire. Visit www.branmac.com and link to plaintiff class actions --you will see a tab for Menu Foods.
The Menu Foods recall may just be the tip of the iceberg when it comes to regulating pet food. "I think that when an industry demonstrates that it can't regulate itself the government should step in," says Brasil. "This incident will likely bring awareness to animal rights in general; in the eyes of the law, animals are still treated as property but this case and the amount of response demonstrates that the public feels it is time to revisit this treatment."