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Tag: compensation

Tainted food leads to $24 million settlement

A federal judge in Camden, N.J. yesterday approved a $24 million settlement for owners of dogs and cats who were sickened or died after eating pet food contaminated with an industrial chemical.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Noel Hillman clears the way for U.S. pet owners with claims to start receiving checks next year, the Associated Press reported. Pet owners have until Nov. 24 to file claims.

A Canadian judge has scheduled a hearing for Nov. 3 to determine whether the settlement can also apply in that nation.

The settlement is to compensate owners for the cost of the food, medical and burial expenses for their animals, the value of the animals or the cost of replacement pets, checkups for animals who ate the food but did not get sick, replacing carpets ruined by sick pets, and time the owners took off work to seek treatment for their animals.

Sherrie R. Savett, a lead lawyer for plaintiffs in the case, has said she believes that more than 1,500 animals in the U.S. died after eating the food last year.

Lawyers said that so far, more than 10,000 people have filed claims — seeking an average of $1,500 each. Money left over after all pet owners have been paid, would go to animal-welfare charities. If the fund does not cover all the claims, pet owners would receive less than 100 percent of their claimed losses.

The tainted pet food came to light in March 2007, when dogs and cats began mysteriously getting sick. The culprit was pet food produced under nearly 200 labels — much of it by Streetsville, Ontario-based Menu Foods Income Fund.

Most of the food turned out to contain Chinese-made wheat gluten laced with melamine, an industrial chemical.