A lawsuit has been filed against Nestlé Purina Petcare Company claiming that the company’s Beneful dog food is killing pets. The class action was filed in federal district court in California on behalf of Frank Lucido. The suit alleges that thousands of dogs have become ill or died as a result of eating Beneful. Class action lawyer Jeffrey Cereghino, plaintiffs’ counsel in the lawsuit, explains the case in this report.
Cereghino relates that Mr. Lucido had three pets in three locations who all developed health problems. The only common element was the Beneful dog food. One dog died, the other two became seriously ill. The different locations tended to rule out environmental issues. Then, online research and discussions with veterinarians disclosed that there were many people who had reported problems with Beneful. For example, one woman lost both her dogs in a matter of weeks after switching to Beneful. The lawsuit followed.
Cereghino opines that the problem with Beneful is that mycotoxins are entering the food through its grain components. Purina has a long history as a pet food manufacturer. There are still now clear answers as to how all this is happening. Cereghino says that toxicologists are being hired to analyze samples of Beneful from victims all over the country.
Another unanswered question is whether the mycotoxins got into every sack of Beneful or only some of them. Cereghino says that his firm “is getting inundated” with emails—almost 200 per hour—about the problem. There have been at least 4,000 pets who have died from the food, as alleged in the lawsuit. The claims are spread out all over the country, and some of them go back to 2013. Purina says that it gets its grain locally. However, in some past problems of different kinds, contaminated grain from China somehow found its way into the food chain, and perhaps that is a possibility here.
So far as Cereghino is aware, only Purina is having a problem with its dog food. So far, there has been no recall of any Beneful. In its public statements, Purina has not yet acknowledged that any problems exist with Beneful. There has been no discovery so far, so many things are not yet clear.
Cereghino says that, based on anecdotal evidence, the problem can appear after only one Beneful feeding. Again, more will be known as more evidence is compiled and discovery begins in the lawsuit. Information from toxicologists will help to develop more information about how long it takes for problems to develop. So far, the most common problem has been significant internal bleeding. Other symptoms include lethargy, hair loss, liver failure, and kidney failure are other problems that have occurred.
The issue of damages will be a tough one. Courts have traditionally viewed pets as chattels as opposed to the way humans are treated. Cereghino says that some jurisdictions have begun to change the way the loss of an animal companion if valued in assessing damages.
Jeffrey B. Cereghino is a Partner at Ram, Olson, Cereghino & Kopczynski, LLP, located in San Francisco, California. His practice area primarily focuses upon complex litigation and class actions. He represents consumers in class action matters as well as property owners in complex construction and product liability actions. He is admitted to numerous Federal District Courts, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and multiple state courts. The Legal Broadcast Network is a featured network of the Sequence Media Group.