| NEW YORK
NEW YORK May 23 Several companies have agreed
to pay a combined $24 million to pet owners to resolve lawsuits
over contaminated pet food linked to the illness and death of
animals, according to court papers.
The settlement involving Canada-based Menu Foods Income
Fund MEW_u.TO and other pet food manufacturers and suppliers
was outlined in documents filed in the U.S. District Court in
New Jersey on Thursday.
The pact still requires court approval. An agreement in
principle to settle the case had been announced in April, and
lawyers for the plaintiffs and defendants said in the new court
papers that a settlement had now been reached.
Consumers in the United States and Canada filed more than
100 lawsuits against multiple pet food makers after a massive
recall of tainted pet food and treats last year.
The recall, first announced in March 2007, was tied to
contaminated wheat gluten and rice protein concentrate imported
from China. It was the biggest pet food recall ever, involving
more than 150 brands of dog and cat food. Owners contend the
tainted ingredients were responsible for sickening or killing
hundreds of dogs and cats in North America.
The settlement is separate from the $8 million already paid
to pet owners by some of the companies or their insurers.
Under the settlement, the companies will pay all of pet
owners' documented expenses for the injury and death of their
pets as a result of consuming the recalled products.
Owners without documentation of their expenses are eligible
to receive payments of up to $900. Any settlement funds
remaining after the payment of claims will be given to
A court hearing was set for May 30 before U.S. District
Judge Noel Hillman in Camden, New Jersey, on approval of the
(Reporting by Martha Graybow; Editing by Derek Caney)