A Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation consolidated 35 lawsuits against Hill’s Pet Nutrition into a single federal legal action. The United States District Court in Kansas City, Kansas will hear the case, due to its proximity to Hill’s headquarters and production facilities in Topeka, Kansas, according to a source familiar with the case.
The now-unified lawsuits related to the recall of 25 varieties of Hill’s canned dog food due to elevated levels of vitamin D in the products. Excess vitamin D in a dog’s diet can cause vomiting, increased thirst, excessive drooling, kidney failure and death.
Following that January 31 recall, pet owners across the country, including Florida, North Carolina, Rhode Island, California and New York, filed lawsuits against Hill’s. The consolidated lawsuit includes approximately 300 named plaintiffs. Some had multiple dogs allegedly sickened or killed along with others who bought the recalled products, but who’s dogs were not noticeably affected.
Read more about individual cases previously filed against Hill’s in the following excerpt from earlier reporting. The plaintiffs alleged that some of their dogs died, while others were sickened. One claimed that Hill’s “dragged its feet” in recalling the product.
Bone et al versus Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc.
On Feb. 11, dog owners in Florida, North Carolina and New York filed a lawsuit against Hill’s Pet Nutrition in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. Three plaintiffs, Kelly Bone, Christina Sawyer and Janine Buckley, alleged that Hill’s knew about the elevated levels of vitamin D in certain canned dog foods months prior to the recall.
The plaintiffs claimed their dogs died as a result of eating Hill's canned Prescription Diet and Science Diet formulations.
Russell et al versus Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc.
Also on Feb. 11, lead plaintiffs Michael and Jodi Russell of Florida filed a class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida. The plaintiffs alleged that Hill’s dog food was defective due to the excessive levels of vitamin D. They claim that their dog Stella was poisoned by the high levels of vitamin D and subsequently euthanized.
Navarette versus 1Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc.
On Feb. 12, lawyers representing dog owner John Navarrete filed a lawsuit against Hill's Pet Nutrition in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.
On October 1, 2018, Navarrete purchased twelve cans of Hill’s Prescription Diet Digestive Care i/d Low Fat Rice, Vegetable & Chicken Stew from a PetSmart store in Concord, California, USA for Goliath, his German Sheppard, according to court documents.
Until January 2019, Navarette purchased more of Hill’s Pet Nutrition wet dog food. In that month, Goliath began experiencing serious health issues, including vomiting and lethargy.
In court documents, Navarette’s lawyers noted that Hill’s website states:
What’s more, the lawyers presented marketing materials from Hill’s that warn pet owners of the dangers of excessive nutrient intake.
Considering Hill’s marketing claims, the plaintiff’s lawyers allege that Hill’s misrepresented their products, which led to Navarette buying the wet dog food for his German Shepherd.
Sun-Dampier et al versus Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc.
Jun Virginia Sun-Dampier’s lawyers filed a lawsuit against Hill’s on Feb. 14. They filed the class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of California’s Northern Disctrict.
Sun-Dampier’s Pekinese dog, Garfield, ate Hill’s Prescription Diet dog food following a veterinarian’s recommendation. On December 4, 2018, the dog owner purchased Hill’s Prescription Diet i/d Digestive Care Dog Food – Low Fat Chicken & Vegetable Stew and fed it to Garfield. Later that month, the dog became increasingly ill and lethargic. He lost his appetite and began vomiting. On Dec. 23, the dog died in the night.
Jubinville et al versus Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc.
Lawyers for Jennifer Jubinville, Jenna Sprengel, Kelli Coppi and Laura Freeman filed a class action lawsuit against Hill’s on Feb. 15 in the U.S. District Court of Rhode Island.
“Not only has Hill’s sold contaminated food, but it has dragged its feet in issuing a recall and including all contaminated food within the scope of the recall,” stated the plaintiffs in court documents.
“The lethal nature of Hill’s Specialty Dog Foods has been compounded by Hill’s excessive and unwarranted delay in warning consumers and regulatory agencies of the dangers posed by those products and has caused untold numbers of pet owners significant emotional distress and financial loss.”
Jubinville fed Hill’s Specialty Dog to her dog, Staley, from 2016 until the beginning of October, 2018. In August the dog began having negative symptoms, such as urinating spontaneously, after eating the dog food. By early November, Staley had deteriorated to point where she needed to be euthanized.
Sprengel’s two dogs, Groucho and Wrigley, became ill after eating Hill’s I/D low-fat canned dog food, resulting in numerous trips to the veterinarian, an internal specialist and a veterinary emergency room.
Coppi fed her dog, Scarlett, Hill’s dog foods for approximately five years, until in January the dog became ill eventually had to be put down.
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