July 19, 2018

On April 9, 2018, Brown Law Firm joined as counsel a class action lawsuit filed by Strauss Troy and Barnow and Associates in US District Court for the Southern District of Ohio on behalf of plaintiff Lisa Hodge against Champion Petfoods USA Inc. for violating the Ohio Deceptive Trade Practices Act and Breach of Express and Implied Warranties. 

The lawsuit is among the earliest of many filed against Champion Petfoods USA nationwide alleging that the company engaged in deceptive trade practices by making false representations about the quality of its premium priced dog food, such as the claim that Orijen and Arcana dog food brands contain “FRESH, RAW or DEHYDRATED ingredients, from minimally processed poultry, fish and eggs that are deemed fit for human consumption prior to inclusion in our foods.”

However, as alleged in lawsuits filed in Ohio, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Kentucky, and elsewhere, Champion-brand dog food products are not composed of high quality ingredients fit for human consumption, but are actually contaminated with high levels of harmful and toxic heavy metals, including arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury.

Much of the data supporting recent class action allegations against Champion Petfoods is drawn from specific research published by Champion that is known as the “white paper.”

A white paper is a marketing tool used to promote a product or service and is often founded on some empirical data. The Champion white paper is a four page pamphlet that sets forth the purported findings of some third-party studies conducted on the heavy metals levels in Orijen and Arcana dog food brands. It discloses high concentrations of arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury in the company’s dog foods and concludes that the concentrations of these heavy metals in Champion dog food products are far below dangerous or inappropriate levels.

Like class actions filed elsewhere, the current litigation in Ohio contends that the Champion white paper data is accurate but its conclusion is not.

Recently, in Loeb v. Champion Petfoods USA Inc. et al., another class action filed against Champion Petfoods in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, Champion sought to have the complaint dismissed and argued that the plaintiff could not simultaneously rely on the white paper’s data and disagree with its conclusion. The court disagreed: “Defendants again rely on the mistaken assumption that the White Paper – which they authored – conclusively establishes the safety and quality of the products.” The court denied Champion’s motion to dismiss.

The Court in Ohio has taken judicial notice of this ruling in Wisconsin.