From Veterinary Information Network (VIN):
Four years after pet food contaminated by poisonous melamine killed and sickened tens of thousands of cats and dogs in North America, a court opinion issued today may open the door at last to payment of claims by owners of affected pets.
The opinion by Judge Noel Hillman in U.S. District Court in New Jersey was the last piece of court action required to put to rest appeals of a $24-million pet food settlement approved by Hillman in October 2008.
“I am hopeful that we can begin processing claims shortly,” said Lisa Rodriguez, liaison counsel for the multiple class-action suits covered by the settlement.
According to court documents, 24,344 claims were submitted by the Nov. 24, 2008, deadline. Of those, 20,550 have been deemed payable. The average claim is about $1,283. Allowed expenses included medical attention, lost wages, property damage and the price of replacement pets. The settlement covers claims by owners in the United States and Canada.
The Veterinary Information Network, an online professional community and parent of the VIN News Service, estimates that between 30,000 and 50,000 animals were affected, judging from member surveys and tracking. The U.S. Attorney’s Office has estimated that about 1,950 cats and 2,200 dogs died, based on consumer reports received by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
More than 100 class action lawsuits filed in the wake of the poisonings were addressed by the court settlement of October 2008. Pet owners were invited to submit claims immediately, but payment of the claims has been delayed since then by two court appeals.
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