Ninth Circuit Affirms Decision to Deny Class Certification in Dog Food Suit

The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s denial of class certification in a lawsuit against Champion Petfoods in an opinion filed on Wednesday. The court determined that the plaintiff’s allegations that dog food sold by the defendant was misleading and that the packaging did not contain an accurate representation of the dog food were “without merit.” 

The initial complaint, filed in March 2018 in the Central District of California, purported that Champion misled its consumers by not disclosing that its pet foods contained heavy metals and toxins. The defendants reportedly had a mission “to be trusted by pet lovers” and create pet food that mirrored what pets would eat in nature with natural ingredients, but betrayed the trust they had built by selling dog foods with various levels of arsenic, mucurly, lead, and cadmium. The plaintiffs have been seeking injunctive relief, an order enjoining the defendants from selling the food, restitution, and damages from Champion. 

Wednesday’s opinion said the district court’s refusal to certify the class in the putative class action lawsuit was not an “abuse of discretion.” The Ninth Circuit agreed with the district court that the plaintiff did not satisfy predominance requirements, that the plaintiff’s price model did not measure the price difference which could be attributed to the purported misleading statements or omissions on the packaging, and that the “full refund model” was not appropriate in this case.

The filing said, “the district court found that, although all dog food packages may have a common message, whether that message is misleading could only be determined by separately examining each bag because the packaging of each bag contains different information.” They said that the risk of contamination did not make the product valueless, as the plaintiff claimed. 

The plaintiffs, Jennifer Reitman, Carol Shoaff, and Erin Grant, are represented by Gustafson Gluek, Cuneo Gilbert & Laduca, Robbins, Lockridge Grindal Nauen, Lite Depalma Greenberg, Andrews Devalerio, Wexler Wallace, and Pomerantz. Champion Petfoods is represented by Greenberg Traurig