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Pet Food Product Contaminated With Chemical

POSTED: 3:10 pm HST May 21, 2008
UPDATED: 4:25 pm HST May 21, 2008

HONOLULU -- Honolulu attorneys who filed a class action lawsuit over tainted pet food have settled the case for close to $250,000.

Thousands of pet owners in Hawaii could be eligible to file claims.

It has been a little more than a year since dogs and cats across the country began getting sick because of pet food contaminated with the chemical melamine. Its presence in wheat gluten from China triggered the largest pet food recall in U.S. history.
Honolulu lawyers on Wednesday announced the first settlement with the pet food manufacturer. Hawaii pet owners who bought the recalled pet food have until July 17 to file claims with Menu Foods.

"Pet owners can recover up to $300 per pet. In addition, they can recover up to $150 for each vet examination," attorney Thomas Grande said

A separate class action filed by pet owners in the U.S. and Canada is said to be close to being settled, but the final dollar amount is expected to be for less than what Hawaii residents are eligible.

"Our lawsuits were litigated separately and were settled separately, and the reason we did that was that we wanted any recovery claims back to Hawaii. In the national settlement, there would be no guarantee that our state would get its fair share," attorney Emily Gardner said.

One important point is that this settlement does not affect pet owners whose animals may have gotten sick or died after eating the recalled pet food. That is being handled separately.

"Those cases are still going forward in state court they have not yet been settled at this time," Gardener said.

Gardner represents 10 pet owners whose animals died or were injured and who are stuck with huge vet bills. Trial in that case is set for April of next year
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