The Knucklehead of the Day award
Today's winner is Menu Foods. Menu is the company known for the pet food debacle that's led the poisoning of pets across this country. If that wasn't bad enough, the company has began harassing pet owners who had brought suit against the company. I should have given this company an award a long time ago. So here it is, for the owners they killed or poisoned, Menu Foods is today's Knucklehead of the Day.
Linked to- Adam, Blue Star, Bright & Early, Jo, Leaning Straight Up, Maggie, Morewhat, Perri Nelson, Pirate's Cove, Point Five, Pursuing Holiness, Random Yak, Right Voices, Right Wing Nation, Samantha Burns, Shadowscape, StikNstein, Third World County, Woman Honor Thyself, The World According to Carl, Yankee Sailor,
(May 26) - The pet food company that recalled six million cans of contaminated dog and cat food made repeated harassing phone calls to pet owners who had lawyers and said they didn't want to talk, even after a judge ordered it to leave them alone, court records show.
Lawyers from six of the more than 80 law firms representing clients who believed their pets were harmed by Menu's pet food brought a motion in federal court in New Jersey Wednesday seeking to stop Menu from "bullying" people who had called the company since the recall was first announced two and a half months ago.
U.S. District Judge Noel Hillman in Camden, New Jersey agreed with them.
"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 over 400 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 the 23rd showing that even pet owners who clearly told Crawford representatives they had retained a lawyer were being called both personally and by what the judge described as 'blaster' computerized phone banks, sometimes numerous times.
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.
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 to pet owners on Friday.