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View Full Version : Menu Foods Harrasses Pet Owners


Stacey Weinberger
May 26th 07, 07:57 PM
This is disgusting.

Stacey

http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2007-05-26-menu-foods-harassment_N.htm?csp=1

Court: Menu Foods harassed pet owners

By Elizabeth Weise, USA TODAY

The pet food company that recalled 60 million cans of contaminated dog and
cat food repeatedly made harassing phone calls to pet owners who had lawyers
and said they didn't want to talk, even after a judge ordered the firm to
leave them alone, court records show.
Lawyers from six among dozens of law firms representing clients who believe
their pets were harmed by Menu's pet food brought a motion Wednesday in a
N.J. federal court seeking to stop Menu from "bullying" people who had
called the company since the recall was announced two and a half months ago.
U.S. District Judge Noel Hillman in Camden, New Jersey agreed with the
individuals.
"It's one thing for two people to sit down at the table and voluntarily
agree to settle their case, it's another thing to harass people on weekends
through automated phone calls," Hillman said to Edward Ruff of Pretzel &
Stouffer, Menu's lawyer.
Hillman entered a consent degree on Wednesday ordering Menu Foods to have no
contact with anyone who believes their animal was injured by its product
without a lawyer being involved.
Calls to Ruff on Friday by USA TODAY were not returned.
Menu Foods has hired Crawford & Company of Atlanta, an insurance adjustment
company, to contact pet owners who called the company to report animal
illnesses or deaths. Operators at the company directed USA TODAY to call
back Tuesday after the holiday.
Jay Edelson, a lawyer with Chicago-based Blim & Edelson, which represents
more than 600 owners, says he believes Menu has received close to 30,000
calls from owners across North America who claim their pets were injured.
At a previous hearing on May 18, the judge had cautioned Menu and Crawford
that they should not contact people who had joined one of the lawsuits
against the company. Legally, Menu cannot contact those plaintiffs directly
but must go through their lawyers.
But affidavits presented in court on Wednesday show that even pet owners who
clearly told Crawford representatives they had a lawyer were being called
personally and by computerized phone banks, sometimes numerous times.
"Menu's representatives asked owners to sign releases which waived their
right to get advice from a lawyer," Edelson said.
"It appears that the company was engaging in a cynical strategy, designed to
settle some of the strongest claims cheaply and induce pet owners to give up
information it might be able to use to defend against others," his firm said
in a letter released on Friday to pet owners.
Ruff blamed the problem on the fact that Monday, May 21 was a holiday -
Victoria Day - in Canada. Menu is based in Ontario, Canada.
Hillman was unyielding.
"It seems to me that Menu Food is out to do whatever Menu Foods wants to do
in a way that could adversely impact the rights of possible members of the
class action suit," he said.
At the end of May a federal multi-district litigation panel will meet in Las
Vegas to determine which court will hear the cases against Menu. The panel
is expected to announce a decision by mid summer.




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