Midwestern Pet Foods Settlement Claim Reimbursement for Recalled Pet Food Purchases

Midwestern Pet Foods

Midwestern Pet Foods, a leading manufacturer of pet food products in the United States, was involved in a large recall of their dog and cat food products beginning in late 2020 and continuing into early 2021 due to potential contamination risks to pets. This triggered a class action lawsuit and settlement that has provided affected consumers with opportunities for reimbursement. Here are the details about the Midwestern Pet Foods settlement and how pet owners can submit claims for recalled pet food purchases.

The Midwestern Pet Foods Recall

In late 2020 and early 2021, Midwestern Pet Foods issued three separate recalls for specific production runs of their dog and cat food due to potentially elevated levels of aflatoxins and salmonella being detected. Aflatoxins are toxic moulds that can grow on corn and other grains used in pet food manufacturing, while salmonella is a harmful bacteria. At elevated levels, exposure to either of these through contaminated pet food products can cause illness and even death in dogs and cats. The three recall announcements spanned production dates from mid-2018. They covered dozens of dry and canned pet food products produced at Midwestern Pet Foods’ manufacturing plants in Greensboro, North Carolina and Steelville, Missouri. It constituted one of the largest pet food recalls in United States history, alarming pet owners nationwide.

The Class Action Lawsuit

In response to concerns over pets becoming ill or dying from the contaminated food, a class action lawsuit was initiated against Midwestern Pet Foods and associated company Nunn Milling Co. in federal court in Indiana in early 2021. The lawsuit alleged that the defendants continued manufacturing and distributing the recalled pet foods despite contamination risks, misleading consumers. It sought damages on behalf of all people in the United States who purchased the recalled products for physical or financial injuries suffered. Though Midwestern Pet Foods denied wrongdoing, both sides eventually agreed to a class action settlement to resolve the matter out of court and provide recovery options to affected consumers.

The Settlement Terms

Under the Midwestern Pet Foods class action settlement terms, an $8.5 million fund was established to compensate approved claims. Eligible pet owners can receive reimbursement in one of two categories through the settlement:

  • Pet Injury Claims: If a person’s dog or cat became ill or died after ingesting one of the recalled products between the approximate recall dates, a claim can be filed for veterinary costs up to $1000. Medical records would need to support the connection to the recalled food.
  • Consumer Food Purchase Claims: Any individual or business that purchased the recalled products for personal use is eligible to file a claim for reimbursement of up to $200 for each purchase they make credible through receipts or other documentation.

All claims are subject to a potential pro-rata reduction depending on how many valid submissions are approved from the settlement fund. The deadline to submit claim forms has passed, but current status updates are available at MWPFSettlement.com.

Filing a Claim for Reimbursement

Consumers seeking reimbursement need to have filed a valid claim form with supporting documentation by the court-ordered deadline of August 3, 2023. The official settlement website, MWPFSettlement.com, houses all critical documents for the claims process, including the long-form notice, claim instruction sheet, and official claim form.

To file for a Pet Injury or Consumer Purchase claim, eligible class members must fill out the form providing their contact information and details of their purchase/injury and upload or mail copies of relevant receipts, invoices, veterinary records or other evidence. Claims containing all required information postmarked or submitted online by the deadline were considered timely.

The court appointed the Epiq Class Action Administration firm as the settlement administrator to oversee the claims process. They are responsible for reviewing all submissions, verifying their validity and recommending approval amounts to the court. Payment amounts depend on how many approvable claims are filed from the $8.5 million fund.

Current Status and Next Steps

As of this date, the settlement has reached its final stages. The claim filing deadline has passed, as has the objection and exclusion deadlines. On August 21, 2023, Magistrate Judge Matthew P. Brookman of the Southern District of Indiana court granted final Midwestern Pet Foods settlement agreement approval at a fairness hearing.

Claims are presently being reviewed, validated and tabulated by the administrator. Once that process is complete and total reimbursement amounts are determined based on available funds, individual payments will be distributed to approved claimants. Updates on timing and amounts will continue to be posted to MWPFSettlement.com. Consumers who qualify based on the purchase of recalled products should monitor the site for news on this ongoing settlement.

The Recall Announcements

Midwestern Pet Foods issued three separate recalls between December 2020 and March 2021 as they investigated the scope of the contamination issues. The first announcement in December 2020 involved select dog food products produced at the Greensboro, NC, plant. This was expanded in January 2021 to include additional products made at Grainboro and the Steelville, MO facility. Finally, in late March, a third recall added more dry and canned dog and cat foods to the list of over 130 affected SKUs. Collectively, the recalls spanned production dates back to mid-2018.

Health Risks for Pets

Aflatoxins and salmonella can seriously sicken or kill pets if consumed at elevated levels. Aflatoxins are toxic secondary metabolites of certain mould species that can grow on grains like corn. They can cause liver damage in pets. Salmonella also commonly infects the liver, spleen and intestines of infected animals. Symptoms of exposure may include vomiting, diarrhoea, loss of appetite, fever and even death. Pets displaying any concerning signs should be promptly seen by their vet to be examined and treated.

The Class Definition

The class included all residents of the United States who purchased the recalled Midwestern Pet Foods products for household or business use, not for resale, during the Class Period from approximately June 1, 2018, to the present. This included purchases made directly from Midwestern Pet Foods and authorized retailers.

Opting Out vs Objecting

Class members could exclude themselves from (opt-out of) the settlement by the deadline, allowing them to retain the right to individually sue the defendants over the recalled products later on their own. Or, objectors could remain part of the class action, and just voice concerns about the settlement’s terms to the court.

Settlement Benefits

Aside from the two reimbursement claim types, the settlement also established business practice reforms for Midwestern Pet Foods in areas like grain sourcing, testing and labelling to help prevent future contamination issues from occurring.

Ongoing Case Updates

Consumers should regularly check MWPFSettlement.com for news about the settlement’s progress as the claims administration and approval process continues wrapping up. Final payment amounts per valid claim will be announced once total reimbursement figures are tabulated.

In summary,

the Midwestern Pet Foods class action presented an avenue for financial recovery for many pet owners nationwide affected by the company’s sizeable multi-state pet food recalls in late 2020 and early 2021. Individuals could receive compensation for recall-linked veterinary costs or purchase reimbursement through the court-supervised and approved settlement process. All eligible claimants should check the official website for current news on the settlement’s progress toward final resolution.

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