A San Francisco lawyer has filed the first American lawsuit against a Chinese company for allegedly providing the contaminated ingredients in pet food which led to the deaths of thousands of cats and dogs in the United States.
Numerous lawsuits have been filed against pet food companies in the United States and Canada, but William Audet, lead attorney, said he believes his lawsuit is the first that names a Chinese supplier as a defendant.
On Wednesday, the law firm of Audet & Partners filed a class action lawsuit against Binzhou Futian Biological Technology, Co., a company based in Binzhou, China which was closed down by the Chinese government in July. The complaint seeks damages and other relief arising from injuries to pet owners whose dogs and cats became sick or died from ingesting melamine.
The lawsuit is filed on behalf of a Monterey woman, Judith Quintana, whose cat Little Girl died in April after eating Natural Balance cat food. As alleged in the complaint, Quintana’s beloved cat died due to complications associated with melamine poisoning from pet food.
“It’s time to hold all companies, regardless of the location of the business, financially and legally accountable for distributing toxic materials into the United States stream of commerce,” said lead attorney William M. Audet.
“Our firm’s legal research has revealed that the law in the People’s Republic of China actually provides for potential liability for distributing ‘impure or fake materials’ in products such as dog and cat food,” said Attorney Audet. “We intend to argue that the China-based company is liable under both California law and applicable Chinese law.”
Audet is asking the court to certify the claim as a class action lawsuit on behalf of all pet owners whose animals were harmed by tainted Natural Balance food.
Natural Balance Pet Foods is also named as a defendant in this lawsuit.
The president of Natural Balance, Joey Herrick, was surprised by the lawsuit. He said that they only produced a small amount of tainted food in comparison to other pet food manufacturers. Herrick said that Natural Balance recalled the products in April and is paying about 400 claims from people with sick pets from eating their recalled pet food. He said that they’ve paid their customers and are doing the right thing.
Source: Press release, San Jose Mercury News