Last month, a salmonella outbreak that affected at least 16 people in the U.S. and Canada led to the discovery of the one common factor amongst the patients: exposure to Diamond pet food. Now there’s an outbreak of a different sort: lawsuits.
In New Jersey, a toddler was sickened by exposure to the food, resulting in a painful three-day stay in the hospital, where he dealt with gastrointestinal injuries, diarrhea, and pain, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. His parents have sued both Diamond Pet Foods and Costco, who they blame for selling Diamond’s products, despite Diamond’s previous safety violations.
In 2005, Diamond pet foods were found to have been contaminated by a toxic mold that killed dozens of dogs. It later agreed to a $3.1 million settlement.
In Eastern New York, a family is suing after their dear dog Benji passed away after eating salmonella-tainted food, reports the Courthouse News Service. Their lawsuit is structured as a class-action on behalf of all of the families that purchased the tainted food.
For the toddler case, Diamond might be able to argue that they had no duty to the toddler, as it was dog food, not kid food. It is not foreseeable to expect that a toddler would handle or eat dog food. However, we should note that there is no indication that the toddler did eat the food, only that it was exposed to the salmonella in the food.
That being said, it is certainly foreseeable that dangerous food products, even if not intended for human consumption, might hurt those that handle the food or be easily accessible to children or toddlers who occupy the same eye level as the family pup.
As for the class-action lawsuit, they have taken a contracts, breach of warranty, and products liability approach to the suit. They have filed on behalf of everyone who purchased the food, not just themselves, for an alleged breach of implied and express warranties. In short, the argument is that the food was promised to be free from defect and disease, and it wasn't.
They've also included some interesting, if not particularly persuasive, arguments under New York State law for false advertising and deceptive business practices.
To date, the salmonella had been thought to all come from one facility in South Carolina. However, the FDA issued an update on May 30 that indicated that a different strain of salmonella was detected at a Missouri plant as well, reports FindAVet.com
The widespread effects of the dog food recall, across most of the U.S, and parts of Canada, Ireland, France, Singapore and other foreign countries means this screw-up may end up costing Diamond Pet Foods even more than the last lawsuit.
- Find a New York Personal Injury Lawyer (FindLaw)
- Investigation of Multistate Outbreak of Human Salmonella Infantis Infections Linked to Dry Dog Food (FDA.gov)
- Diamond Naturals Small Breed Adult Dog Lamb & Rice Formula Dry Food Added to Recall (Diamond Pet Foods)
- Dog Food Recall Expands: 14 Humans Sickened by Pets (FindLaw's Common Law Blog)
- Salmonella Sushi: Tuna Recalled, Who Sues Who? (FindLaw's New York Personal Injury Law Blog)