DCM-Related $2.6 Billion Class Action Suit Filed Against Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Academic Vets

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Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz LLP, a leading law firm protecting consumers and small businesses against corporate fraud and unfair competition, recently announced that it has filed a major class action lawsuit against Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc., a subsidiary of Colgate-Palmolive Co. and one of the largest manufacturers of grain-based pet food in the country, as well as a group of academic veterinarians and organizations with financial ties to the company. According to Thomas Burtpartner with Wolf Haldensteintea 2.6 trillion dollars the damages sought in this case would be the largest in history United States pet food industry.

Following, KetoNatural Pet Foods v. Hill’s Pet Nutritionwas filed in United States District Court for the district Kansas we February 6. They allege that Hill’s and other defendants conducted a coordinated scheme to convince American pet owners that grain-free dog food sold by many of Hill’s competitors increased the risk and severity of a fatal canine heart disease called dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). The scheme allegedly involved a wide range of wrongdoing by the defendants, most notably the fraudulent misrepresentation of DCM case data to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA spent more than five years conducting a widely publicized investigation into a “potential link” between grain-free dog foods and DCM, only to suspend further updates to the investigation last year after announcing that it did not find enough data to establish a link between DCM. and the products under investigation.

The lawsuit alleges that the DCM FDA investigation was fraudulently induced by veterinarians affiliated with Hill’s v Tufts University and other major research institutions, all of which have received extensive funding from entities affiliated with Hill’s. Veterinarians reportedly pushed the FDA to take drastic action by flooding the agency with hundreds of DCM case reports that were deliberately selected to overrepresent the commonality of grain-free diets among dogs suffering from the disease.

The FDA’s investigation received major media coverage in 2018 and 2019, sparking a panic over DCM that caused the grain-free pet food market to decline by trillions of dollars. The lawsuit alleges that Hill’s and her co-conspirators then created panic by making false statements about the scientific evidence surrounding DCM to both the veterinary community and the general public, as well as by manipulating the language of academic papers by using front organizations to hide undisclosed payments to veterinarians researchers and create Facebook groups and websites to amplify misinformation and stifle dissent.

According to the lawsuit, the scheme produced a shocking financial windfall for Hill’s, a company that had steadily lost market share to grain-free competitors in the years before the controversy: In the four years immediately preceding the start of the FDA investigation, Hill’s lost 20 percent of its market share. In the five years since the investigation began, it was probably the fastest-growing pet food company in the country.

According to Reuters postponementthe case was conducted on behalf of the company KetoNatural Pet Foods, a UtahA pet food startup specializing in low carb dog food. KetoNatural is seeking class action status for at least several hundred companies with combined annual revenues in excess of $10 billion. KetoNatural said in the lawsuit that it had “collected reams of evidence” from customers who said they had stopped buying its dog food because of concerns about its alleged association with DCM.

According to Burt, pet food brands like KetoNatural are just one of several separate groups that Hill’s and her co-conspirators damaged. “We know that boutique pet food retailers and their owners across the country have also been harmed by the false belief that grain-free pet foods increase the risk of DCM in dogs. As we continue to investigate potential claims against Hill’s and his co-conspirators, we encourage anyone who believes they have been harmed by the misconduct described in this lawsuit to contact our offices.”

Hill’s Pet Nutrition responded to a request for comment with the following statement: “Hill’s Pet Nutrition operates with the utmost integrity in all aspects of our business. We believe these allegations are unfounded and will vigorously defend our position.”

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