While a federal district court approved the settlement of class claims that melamine-tainted dog and cat food sickened and/or killed tens of thousands of pets in the United States, the pet owners who were expecting compensation in 2009 will apparently have to await the outcome of two separate appeals filed in December 2008. According to the claims administrator’s Web site, “No payments will be made on eligible claims until all appeals are resolved. It is uncertain how long these appeals will take to resolve, and the timing of resolving the appeals is not within the control of the parties or their counsel. It is not uncommon for appeals to take several months or even years to resolve.”

As noted in issues 275 and 283 of this Update, those dissatisfied with the settlement have claimed that (i) it will foreclose their ability to recover for their separate claims that pet food makers improperly labeled their products as “Made in the USA,” and (ii) release their claims that marketing pet food as healthy, premium or human grade is false and misleading because such pet food products allegedly contain “nonedible garbage, by-products and waste that is unfit for human consumption.” The court determined that these claims would not be released, but the parties that filed them have apparently disagreed and are challenging the settlement agreement. See DogChannel.com, January 9, 2009.

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For decades, manufacturers, distributors and retailers at every link in the food chain have come to Shook, Hardy & Bacon to partner with a legal team that understands the issues they face in today's evolving food production industry. Shook attorneys work with some of the world's largest food, beverage and agribusiness companies to establish preventative measures, conduct internal audits, develop public relations strategies, and advance tort reform initiatives.