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Class Action Lawsuit Filed on Behalf of Dog Owners Whose Pets Were Sickened by Dangerous Treats

Over the past several months, our Chicago personal injury attorneys have expressed concern over an epidemic of food poisoning seemingly caused by contaminated chicken jerky treats produced in China.

Now, after several humans and hundreds of dogs have been sickened or killed by the tainted food, dog owners in eight states have come together to form a class-action lawsuit against Nestle Purina, the maker of two popular brands of the canine snacks, and several mega-stores that sell them.

The pet owners are bringing suit under the concept of Illinois personal injury law that allows people to make claims based on the loss of companionship of a loved one. Monetary damages attempt to put people back in the position they were in prior to an injury or accident; sometimes this happens by compensating individuals for pain and suffering or the loss of a family member.

More specifically, Chicago product liability lawsuits allow persons the potential to achieve justice when loved ones are harmed by dangerous, flawed, or infected products. When the loss of a pet causes pet owners the same grief as the loss of a member of the family, the same remedy should be available despite the fact that those loved ones aren’t persons.

Adding merit to the pet owners’ class-action claim is the fact that U.S. Food and Drug Administration officials are currently investigating the Chinese plants that make the jerky treats blamed for at least 1,000 illnesses and deaths in U.S. pets. MSNBC reports that pet illnesses caused by the tainted dog food ranged from nausea and vomiting to kidney failure, and, in the most severe cases, death.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court, names Wal-Mart, Target, and Costco, three big retailers that sell the products among others for liability in the pets’ illness and death. Illinois product liability law is an area of personal injury law that focuses on dangerous and defective products; it is the area of law in which manufacturers, distributors, retailers, and others who manufacture and disseminate goods to the public are held responsible for the injuries caused by those products.

When corporations manufacture products that are marketed to consumers, those companies are responsibility for ensuring that the merchandise meets all safety requirements; companies are expected to test their products before distributing them to the public, and when those products are unsafe and cause harm to customers, the corporation may be held legally responsible for the injuries caused. In this case, it was the responsibility of the companies who produced the chicken treats to ensure they were safe for pets to consume.

Further, under Illinois product liability law when a defective product is distributed to consumers, liability may fall collectively and severally on both the manufacturers of the product, and the retail store responsible for passing the hazardous product on to consumers.

According to the lawsuit, both makers and distributors of the treats failed to recall the products voluntarily, despite three federal warnings since 2007 about possible safety issues and nearly 1,000 reports submitted to the FDA of dogs who were sickened or killed by the products. In the past six months alone, more than 500 dogs have been sickened – some fatally so – because the jerky treats contain traces of melamine and melamine analogs and diethylene glycol, chemicals otherwise used in manufacturing plastics and resins.

If you’ve lost a loved one – either person or pet – in a situation which you believe may be a result of the negligence of corporation, you may be able to file a lawsuit to recover the costs involved to pay for medical and funeral expenses, and suffering or mental anguish suffered by the survivors of the decedent. Contact an attorney to understand your rights under the law.

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