Week Adjourned: 2.27.15 – Beneful, Lenovo, Big Tobacco

Beneful logoTop Class Action Lawsuits

An Urgent Heads Up for Dog Owners…Nestle Purina Petcare Company is facing a consumer fraud class action lawsuit alleging its dog food Beneful contains toxic substances which can kill dogs. Filed by Frank Lucido, the lawsuit claims that the dog food is to blame for either the deaths or serious illnesses of thousands of dogs.

The Beneful lawsuit claims that while Beneful is advertised as a healthful and nutritional dog food, the Lucido’s experience and others has been the opposite. Specifically, the lawsuit claims that Beneful dog foods contain propylene glycol, which is “an automotive component that is a known animal toxin and is poisonous to cats and dogs.”

Further, the Lucidos claim that Beneful also contains mycotoxins, which are “a group of toxins produced by fungus that occurs in grains, which are a principle ingredient in Beneful.” The lawsuit cites the Association for Truth In Pet Food, which tested “Beneful Original and found that it contained dangerous levels of mycotoxins.”

According to the complaint, Lucido had a German Shepherd, an English Bulldog and a Labrador. In late December 2014 or January 2015 he purchased his first bag of Beneful dog food which he fed to each dog and which each dog began eating exclusively. On January 15, Lucido’s German Shepherd began to lose a large amount of hair and he began to have an unusual odor. Two days later the German Shepherd became violently ill, the lawsuit claims.

After being examined by a veterinarian, it was determined that the German Shepherd was suffering from internal bleeding in the dog’s stomach and the liver was also malfunctioning, which the veterinarian said was “consistent with poisoning.” Then, on January 23, the Lucidos found their English Bulldog dead in the yard. “Post-mortem veterinary examination revealed signs of internal bleeding in the dog’s stomach and lesions on his liver, much like [the German Shepherd],” the class action lawsuit claims. The Lucido’s Labrador is also now ill and is being tested for similar problems.

According to the lawsuit, the Lucidos “have suffered economic losses including the purchase price of Beneful and veterinary and related medical expenses” as result of the harm Beneful caused their dogs.

The lawsuit states that over 3,000 similar complaints have been posted by dog owners on the Internet “about dogs becoming ill, in many cases very seriously ill, and/or dying after eating Beneful.”

“The dogs show consistent symptoms, including stomach and related internal bleeding, liver malfunction or failure, vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, weight loss, seizures, bloating, and kidney failure,” the lawsuit states.

The Beneful lawsuit seeks representation for two classes, specifically, a nationwide class and a California subclass for dog owners “who purchased Beneful dog food in the past four years and who incurred any out of pocket costs due to illness, injury or death of their dog resulting from the ingestion of Beneful.”

The class action lawsuit claims Nestle Purina is in breach of implied warranty, breach of express warranty, negligence, negligent misrepresentation, strict products liability, violating California’s consumer legal remedies act, violating California’s Unfair Competition Law, and violating California’s False Advertising Law.

The Lucidos are represented by Jeffrey B. Cereghino of Ram, Olson, Cereghino & Kopcyzynski, by John Yanchunis of Morgan & Morgan Complex Litigation Group, by Karl Molineux of Merrill, Nomura & Molineux, and by Donna F. Solen of Kimbrell Kimbrell & Solen LLC.

The Beneful Toxic Dog Food Class Action Lawsuit is Frank Lucido v. Nesltle Purina Petcare Company, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

Deeply Creepy. A proposed spyware class action lawsuit has been filed against Lenovo and Superfish Inc, makers of software installed on many different types of Lenovo laptops, alleging the companies are in violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the Federal Wiretap Act, the Stored Communications Act, as well as California’s Invasion of Privacy Act and its Unfair Competition Law.

Filed in California on behalf of a proposed class of Lenovo customers, the class action alleges the company sold computers preloaded with Superfish software which is capable of tracking customers’ online activity and leaving their computers vulnerable to hackers. Nice.

“Lenovo never disclosed the Superfish program and took affirmative steps to conceal it from consumers because the program is generally considered to be spyware, adware or malware and, aside from the fact that it allows companies to spy on user’s every move online, the program also creates serious security issues for any consumer accessing the Internet with a Lenovo notebook computer on which the Superfish program has been installed,” according to the legal documents. Does this nonsense ever end? Where is Edward Snowdon?

The lawsuit is Sterling International Consulting Group v. Lenovo, 15-807, and includes common law claims of trespassing and fraud, as well as a claim of negligent misrepresentation. 

Top Settlements

The Last Gasp—the Final Puff—? Maybe, just maybe. Big tobacco reached a $100 million settlement this week, potentially ending something like 400 personal injury lawsuits winding their way through a courtroom near you. Well, actually, Florida. The lawsuits are pending against Philip Morris, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and Lorillard Tobacco Co, and stem from the landmark Engle v. Liggett Group Inc. class action against tobacco companies that was decertified in 2006 by the Florida Supreme Court.

The potential tobacco settlement resolves only those cases pending in federal court, and if approved, would see R.J. Reynolds and Philip Morris each pay $42.5 million, and Lorillard $15 million.

The deal remains subject to the approval of all of the individual plaintiffs in the cases covered by the agreement. In the meantime, the affected cases have been stayed pending approval of the deal. 

Hokee Dokee- That’s a wrap folks…Time to adjourn for the week.  See you at the bar!