California Federal Court Permits Class Action Pet Food Lawsuit to Go Forward
A California Federal Court recently denied a motion filed by a pet food manufacturer (Defendant) to dismiss a proposed class action lawsuit centered around the alleged presence of heavy metals within the defendant’s pet food. The plaintiffs alleged that the defendant made actionable false, misleading, or otherwise deceptive statements regarding the nature and qualify of their pet food. The defendant is facing similar lawsuits in other jurisdictions, which focus on the presence of heavy metals within these pet food products. In these other lawsuits, cases have been dismissed, with courts finding that the plaintiffs failed to establish the level of heavy metals found in the food was actually harmful to pets.
The defendant asserts this same defense in the California claim at issue – arguing that heavy metals in its pet food are naturally occurring and at such low levels that they are safe and not dangerous to pets. The plaintiffs rebutted that they are not attempting to prove any pets were actually harmed by the pet food at issue, but only that the defendant was deceptive and misleading in their advertising of the pet food.
Unlike decisions from other jurisdictions, this California Federal Court found that the plaintiff had adequately pled facts that, taken as true, form a plausible claim that the defendant was misleading in statements regarding the nature and quality of their pet food. As this issue continues to be litigated across the country, we will see whether this decision is an anomaly or these types of proposed class actions centered around pet food will be permitted.