Proposed New Jersey Product Liability Law Would Give Pet Owners Recourse for Tainted Pet Foods!

Dogs have been described as man's best friend, and this slogan may carry some legal weight in terms of personal injury lawsuits if one New Jersey Assemblyman has his way.

In reaction to the recent recall of dog food products that contained contaminated wheat gluten which could have been hazardous or lethal if consumed by dogs or cats in large doses, Assemblyman Neil M. Cohen has sponsored legislation allowing pet owners to take legal recourse under a two-year statute of limitations.

Specifically, Cohen's New Jersey personal injury legislation would allow pet owners to sue the manufacturers, producers and distributors of any pet food that caused a pet to become ill, injured or die. A PoliticsNJ.com story detailed that this proposed New Jersey personal injury law would allow pet owners to seek various types of damages, including up to $15,000 for loss of companionship, for these defective products.

Under this bill, pet owners could also seek damages for the replacement of the animal at a current selling price, veterinary expenses for the treatment of the animal, burial or cremation costs, animal training expenses, and any special value of the animal, such as if it was a guide, service or show animal.

This proposed New Jersey personal injury law would also allow pet owners to sue retailers who did not immediately respond to a recall notice and remove the tainted product from the shelves and take any other necessary steps. This bill would also give local health authorities the power to destroy tainted pet food from retail stores and prevent these products from being sold to the public.

The story indicated that New Jersey would become the first state to allow such product liability lawsuits if this bill were to eventually become law.

What Sparked this Proposed New Jersey Personal Injury Law?

Cohen said in the story that businesses must be held accountable when making defective products, even if the victim is an animal. His statements came of course after the recent recall of popular dog food products that contained the contaminated wheat gluten.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced in March that products manufactured by Menu Foods and Hill's Pet Nutrition contained the problematic gluten. Other pet food manufacturers like Nestle Purina PetCare Co. and Del Monte Pet Products later learned that their products contained the contaminated gluten.

The New York State Food Laboratory recently linked the problematic gluten to aminoptrin, a cancer drug that is often used as rat poison. However, this finding has not yet been confirmed by the FDA, which has attributed the chemical melamine to the tainted gluten.

With that in mind, Cohen said in the story that he sponsored this legislation in reaction to the deaths of pets from this tainted food and the inability of stores to quickly remove this bad pet food. He described the potential loss of an animal due to a "preventable tragedy" as possibly being as devastating as losing a family member. Cohen also expressed his own concern that his dog, a miniature schnauzer by the name of Ginger, could have been affected by a lethal bowl of Alpo.

With that said, Cohen's legislation has already advanced in the Assembly and now heads to the Speaker who will decide if and when it will be voted on.

And if you have any questions about defective products or any other personal injury case areas, speak to a local personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Simply fill out our free personal injury case evaluation form or call 877-288-7564, and we'll help you get in touch with one of our sponsoring personal injury attorneys who can begin to answer your questions.


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