A recall of pet food products manufactured by Menu Foods was recently announced, pulling 60 million containers of dog and cat food that may be deadly to pets. Read the full story by clicking on this link.
Unfortunately for some pet owners, the recall apparently came too late as their pets consumed the recalled products and fell ill or even died as a result. In the case of one such Chicago woman, Dawn Majerczyk, her cat’s death has led to a lawsuit against Menu Foods. This lawsuit may even balloon into a class action lawsuit.
What is interesting about this case is the question of what potential causes of action exist against Menu Foods. Such plaintiff pet owners likely did not personally suffer any physical injuries as a result of the contaminated pet food, or the delay of recalling the products. Perhaps Ms. Majerczyk suffered emotional damage, but beyond emotional trauma, no harm to her person likely occurred.
As discussed in previous Law in Life posts, we have discussed that negligence is a cause of action that may be raised from the breach of a duty, which in turn, causes damages. These damages do not necessarily have to be bodily damage to a person, but may also be damages to personal property. And in this case, since pets are considered personal property, negligence may be an appropriate cause of action, if Menu Foods breached some duty it owed to Ms. Majerczyk or other similar pet owners.
There is also the potential cause of action of strict products liability. Under a theory of strict products liability, a manufacturer may be liable for damages caused by its product if the product was defectively designed or manufactured, or if a warning label is defective. However, a strict products liability cause of action is only generally applied when the harm is caused to a human being.
This will definitely be an interesting case to follow, but as we have seen in the past, such high-publicity cases usually never make it to trial, and are instead settled out of court.