If my dog choked on a treat and I have recently discovered the same treats may have caused my other dog’s death, can I sue the company for damages?

Asked on August 17, 2012 under General Practice, Maryland


S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

If the dog that choked is OK and did not require any veterinary treatment, that case is not worth pursuing without documentation of the injury. If the dog had veterinary treatment for the choking, then that case is worth pursuing. If the other dog died due to contaminated food, that case is worth pursuing.

You can sue the manufacturer of the pet food and the store where you purchased it.  Your lawsuit would have separate causes of action for negligence and strict liability.  Negligence is the failure to exercise due care (that degree of care that a reasonable pet food manufacturer would have exercised under the same or similar circumstances to produce a product that is not defective).  

Strict liability imposes liability whether or not due care was exercised.

Both the manufacturer and seller (store where you purchased the dog food) are liable for negligence and strict liability.  The store is liable even if it could not have known the pet food was contaminated.

Your damages (the amount of compensation you are seeking in your lawsuit) would be for the veterinary bills and death of your dog.

Prior to filing a lawsuit against the manufacturer and store, it may be possible to settle the case with their insurance carriers.  If the case is settled with the insurance carriers for both the manufacturer and seller, NO lawsuit is filed.  If the case is NOT settled with either insurance carrier, name both the manufacturer and seller (store) as defendants in your lawsuit for negligence and strict liability.  If the case is settled with one, but not both insurance carriers, only name the defendant with whom the case has not settled in your lawsuit.  If the case is NOT settled, you will need to file your lawsuit for negligence and strict liability prior to the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations or you will lose your rights forever in the matter. 

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