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Judge Oks $24 million settlement of pet-food litigation
Camden, N.J. - A federal judge approved a $24 million settlement hammered out a week earlier, aimed at compensating owners of thousands of pets that were sickened or killed by tainted pet foods last year.
Camden, N.J. — A federal judge approved a $24 million settlement hammered out a week earlier, aimed at compensating owners of thousands of pets that were sickened or killed by tainted pet foods last year.
Terms of the deal offer owners several ways to collect — but not on the basis of emotional damage, or for their own pain and suffering. The defense said in open court it wanted to make that point clear.
Owners can receive payments for up to 100 percent of their documented expenses connected with the death and illness of pets, including veterinary costs, lost time from work to care for sick animals, replacement pets, burial expenses and property damaged because of sick animals. They can even be reimbursed for the cost of testing their animals for contaminated products, whether or not the pets actually were sick. Others who may lack some of their receipts can receive up to $900.
The chief defendant, Ontario-based Menu Foods Inc., and some other manufacturers already had paid about $8 million to settle claims filed earlier.
U.S. District Judge Noel Hillman's approval on May 30 was one of the final steps in settling the massive pet-food recall crisis involving more than 100 brands tainted with melamine and cyanuric acid that caused pets to suffer kidney damage or failure. The foods contained tainted wheat gluten imported from China.
Attorneys said a Web site will be established soon to inform affected pet owners in the United States and Canada about the settlement, giving them until early December to file claims. One final hearing on the matter is set for Oct. 14.
Plaintiffs' lawyers are seeking $6 million, or about a fourth of the settlement total. Defendants say any money remaining after all claims and fees would go to animal-welfare charities.