Yesterday, we posted a story about a San Francisco lawyer filing a class action lawsuit against Binzhou Futian Biological Technology, a Chinese company that allegedly provided contaminated ingredients in pet food that resulted in massive dog and cat food recalls. The lawsuit is being filed on behalf of a woman whose cat died after eating Natural Balance cat food.
Natural Balance was also named as one of the defendants in the lawsuit.
Natural Balance’s president, Joey Herrick, is firing back against the lawsuit. He is surprised by the lawsuit because he said that the company has paid all claims of people whose pets died or were sickened by tainted food.
Herrick also said the company has paid out more than $100,000 dollars so far to nearly 200 pet owners including all their vet bills or the cost to replace the pet. In one specific incident, he paid $14,000 to a dog owner to cover medical care that saved its life. Herrick added that he won’t pay for anguish of losing a pet.
The class action lawsuit seeks damages up to $5 million dollars on behalf of pet owners whose animals ate contaminated food and it also asks financial compensation for mental anguish for loss of a pet.
In the lawsuit, it states that Binzhou Futian Biological Technology shipped contaminated rice protein into San Francisco, and then this rice protein went into some of Natural Balance cat and dog food.
Some legal experts say that this lawsuit against this Chinese company will face many challenges.
UC Berkeley Law Professor, Richard Buxbaum says that he has doubts that any money will come out of China on the decision on the case. Lawyers might be able to use courts in California to sue for damages, but there may not be money to collect. “They would look for assets in the United States and if they didn’t have any assets here they’d have to go to China and hope a Chinese court would recognize that and enforce it,” Buxbaum explained.
Although the lawsuit is seeking financial damages for mental anguish, Buxbaum said that it would be unprecedented for courts to decide to award compensation for emotional damage over losing a pet.